New Orleans Arena Goes Fishing

Officials with the state-owned New Orleans Arena have been in talks with the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board regarding a new, seafood-themed name for the venue.

Such an agreement could apparently be a win-win for both the board and the arena. The board is looking for ways to promote Gulf of Mexico seafood following the 2010 oil spill and the arena is looking for ways to keep the NBA’s Hornets in the building.

Ewell Smith, executive director of the seafood board, told the Times-Picayune the group received $30 million from BP following the oil spill and has considered using a portion of the money for naming rights.

“We see this as a major media buy for us because we are going to be spending the money on TV or billboard or traditional media one way or the other,” Smith said. “So we are looking at different avenues, whether it’s the Hornets or other venues, and what will give us the strongest impression with the consumers across the nation and then how can we use that within the trade to drive sales.”

The team’s lease at the arena expires in 2014 but an extension is being negotiated with the state, along with an ownership search for the team, Gov. Bobby Jindal told the paper.

“We have been involved in talking to the NBA about the long-term lease to keep the Hornets here and the sale to private investors that would keep the Hornets here,” Jindal said.

Naming rights might just sweeten such a deal.

The paper estimated a naming-rights agreement in the market could cost about $35 million for 10 years, which would empty the seafood board’s purse, so Smith added there is a possibility a third party, such as Zatarain’s, could be brought as a partner on the deal.