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Auto dealer's bid is only one received for naming rights to ice rink complex

Despite some initial optimism that the Town of Amherst would receive multiple proposals for the naming of the former Amherst Pepsi Center, the town received only one bid for the naming rights last week.

Northtown Automotive submitted the sole proposal to have its name adorn the four-rink complex, the practice home for the Buffalo Sabres, said Council Member Guy R. Marlette. Town officials are not publicly releasing the details of Northtown's proposal.

This is the second time the town has solicited naming rights proposals for the prominent facility -- now known as the Amherst Ice Center -- which routinely hosts regional and national tournaments.

The town originally had asked companies to submit separate naming rights and exclusive beverage pouring rights bids for the town's rink facility last year, but Pepsi submitted the only bid for naming rights.

Coke and Pepsi bid separately on the pouring rights last year, and Coke won.

The town subsequently rejected Pepsi's offer for naming rights and issued a second request for proposals on the naming rights alone. The town also hired a marketing firm to help craft a better solicitation package to get more companies interested in putting their name on the facility.

More companies expressed a serious interest in the naming rights this time around, but only Northtown Automotive submitted a proposal by last week's deadline. The company also had shown interest in the naming rights last year but did not submit an offer.

Purchasing Director Lawrence K. Graner expressed some disappointment over the weak response, given the extra effort he and other staffers put into pitching the naming rights opportunity and talking with interested companies.

"We thought we would have a lot more interest and a lot more proposals," said Graner, who believes that the still-fragile economy may be a factor in the lack of interest.

The committee reviewing the proposal is discussing whether the town is receiving the best possible offer under the circumstances.

"This is a minimum of a 10-year agreement, and we want to make sure we have the best proposal for the naming rights," Marlette said.

Graner said he's hopeful the town can reach an agreement with Northtown Automotive, but if not, he probably would recommend the town wait a year or more before trying again to solicit proposals for naming rights.

He added that the matter is expected to come before the Town Board next month.

e-mail: stan@buffnews.com

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