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AMHERST IS SELLING ICE RINK NAMING RIGHTS TO HIGHEST BIDDER -- WITHIN REASON

In Amherst, town leaders say they prefer something catchier than North AmeriCare Park as the name for the town's ice complex, scheduled to open next fall.

Some names are out of the question.

"We would insist on the right to reject a name based on the content," said Amherst Supervisor Susan J. Grelick. "We don't want some absurd name. There might be a company name that's inappropriate for an arena."

Some company products, too, are inappropriate. So adult bookstores and cigarette companies can forget about paying to put their names on the arena.

They may demand good taste, but Amherst town officials are not traditionalists like Buffalo Bills owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr.

Wilson would prefer his professional football team play at Erie County Stadium rather than Rich Stadium.

When the Bills open their 1998 season in Orchard Park, Wilson is expected to turn down an estimated $1 million to $2 million a year from some company that wants to stamp its name on the stadium.

Amherst officials, on the other hand, would be happy for $250,000 over a 10-year period, an amount a consultant projected the town could earn.

So don't expect to visit the Town of Amherst Ice Complex.

Although the town is strict about residency requirements inside its recreational facilities, it would not mind if a non-Amherst company pays to have its name emblazoned in front of the complex.

"I think it's open to the highest bidder," Ms. Grelick said.

Amherst officials say it would be the first time locally a municipality has sold naming rights to a town facility, so they are unsure about how much a company will pay.

John E. "Skip" Cerio, a partner in Edgewater Ventures Co., was given permission this week to begin marketing the naming rights. The campaign begins in January, and Cerio hopes to have a list of interested companies within a few months.

The Amherst Chamber of Commerce will be asked to notify its members of the town's campaign to name the arena, Cerio said.

Edgewater is building the four-rink arena at the Audubon Recreation Center off Millersport Highway and Maple Road across from the University at Buffalo North Campus.

The arena will include a food court, restaurant, arcade, retail store featuring skating gear, locker rooms and an exercise room for skaters.

Cerio anticipates companies will be interested in buying the naming rights. He said he has approached a handful of companies informally. An executive at the third company he approached expressed a desire the buy the naming rights, Cerio said.

Selling the naming rights will help pay for construction of the arena. The total cost of the project, including borrowing costs, will be $34 million.

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