MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - City leaders have reached a naming rights agreement for the convention center, which is currently undergoing renovations. Thursday, Mayor Jim Strickland and Memphis Tourism announced a $6.8 million, 10-year naming deal with Renasant Bank.
“We needed a total transformation of this building in order to really keep pace with our sister cities,” said Strickland.
Thursday, Strickland and officials with Renasant Bank signed the deal and unveiled renderings of the side of the convention center that will greet drivers entering Memphis from Arkansas on I-40.
Construction is well underway on the $200 million renovations to the convention center, and the city says the project is on time and on budget, with substantial completion expected by September of 2020. The city dropped the Cook name when they broke ground on the renovations in January.
With the Loews hotel plans moving forward, tourism officials anticipate in the coming years 1,200 hotel rooms within steps of the new convention center.
"We have seen other cities do this successfully, be able to supplement their operating losses at different facilities with these naming rights," said Strickland.
City officials said the convention center naming deal is worth $6.8 million over ten years with options for Renasant Bank to renew after that. It’s expected the added revenue could close a budget gap and help the convention center move toward operations in the black.
“They are loss leaders. Convention centers traditionally do not show a profit on the bottom line. They show a profit in what they generate in revenue and taxes for the community. And that’s why we are here,” said Kevin Kane, with Memphis Tourism.
Renasant Bank officials said they will soon break ground on a Memphis-metro headquarters at Poplar and I-240, while also opening a boutique branch downtown at the Renasant Convention Center.
Renasant Bank’s corporate headquarters is located in Tupelo, Mississippi.
“We will be anchored in east Memphis and then have this nice presence downtown,” said Daniel Reid, Memphis market president, with Renasant Bank.
Strickland said the city is also exploring other naming deals, including with the Liberty Bowl and the youth sports complex at the Mid-South Fairgrounds.