Legendary British rockers, The Who, brought their The Who Hits 50 tour to the sold out Gwinnett Arena on Thursday, April 23, 2015. Joan Jett and the Blackhearts opened the high energy show. Robb D. Cohen/RobbsPhotos.com
Photo: Robb D. Cohen/.RobbsPhotos.com
Photo: Robb D. Cohen/.RobbsPhotos.com

Infinite Energy gets more than new name with Gwinnett Center deal

An $18 million naming rights deal actually guarantees a whole lot more than a company’s name on a building.

It also ensures the name will be on tickets, programs, napkins, cups and the uniforms employees wear. Not to mention on the ice at hockey games and other “advantageous” surfaces for other sports. All that according to the just-released contract between the Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau and the gas company Infinite Energy, which inked a 20-year naming deal earlier this month.

Under the deal, the complex formerly known as the Gwinnett Center will be called the Infinite Energy Center.

“We’re ecstatic about our partnership,” said Richard Blaser, Infinite Energy’s CEO. “We’re excited about the opportunity in the future.”

The gas company, which had multi-family residential, business and industrial customers, was “looking for ways to get our name out there” as it moved to add single-family residential customers, Blaser said. He said he expects the company to increase its civic presence in the county.

“A naming rights partner is more than just about money, or someone hanging a sign,” said Preston Williams, CEO of the convention and visitors bureau. “I feel about as good as I can feel about this one.”

As part of the contract, the Bureau agreed to “actively discourage others from using nicknames to refer to the Venue” and not to use any itself.

The contract, signed Aug. 14, lays out who is responsible for the cost of new signs (they split it) and how many times the name can be changed in the coming two decades (once, with few exceptions). It also spells out that the entertainment venue will become an Infinite Energy customer.

In addition to seeing the words Infinite Energy all over the entertainment complex, the company will receive access to one luxury suite, will have 12 house seats per event to give away and will receive discounts on catering. Infinite Energy will get four VIP parking spaces, rent-free access to meeting rooms and once a year, will be able to use the venue for a daylong event.

The agreement runs through Dec. 1, 2035, but the parties have an exclusive six-month negotiation window beginning in 2032 to renew the deal.

The convention and visitors bureau will receive payment in monthly installments — a total of $850,000 annually for the first decade and $950,000 annually for the second. If the deal falls apart, the party that defaults will pay the other $5 million if it happens before Dec. 1, 2016 and $2.5 million (or however much is owed, if it is less) if it happens later.

Any new buildings constructed while the deal is in place will also have the Infinite Energy name.

“It’s a great fit,” Blaser said. “We’re looking to have a big impact in Gwinnett.”

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