FORT WAYNE, Ind. (NBC33) - The Allen County War Memorial Coliseum has been named in the honor the veterans who have fought and died protecting our country since it originally opened in 1952. But it may not remain named that way, according to our sources.
The Coliseum is seeking $3.5 million for a 10-year sponsorship of the arena. In 2008, Parkview Health paid $3 million for a decade of naming rights with downtown's baseball field.
The idea of changing the name of the Coliseum has gotten a number of local veterans very upset. Michael Flennery, a Vietnam veteran and the Post Commander of VFW Post 1421 said Tuesday that if the Coliseum is in need of money, he’d gladly pay his share on the stipulation that the name remains.
“I would rather pay higher taxes and leave the War Memorial Coliseum alone. We don't - we've got enough corporation in everything we do now. Let's keep a little something for the veterans.”
Flennery later went on to stress the significance the venue has for past, present, and future veterans and their families as they return home to Allen County.
“I think right now with the people we have coming home, and the veterans who have suffered, the problems we are having at the VA, everything else that's going on in the United States, Indiana, and Allen County today, the War Memorial Coliseum is one of our shining lights that we need to keep."
He also added, "there is a reason the anchor from the Indianapolis is outside in the lawn, there's a reason the plaques are in the building with the names of those who've died, there's a reason the tax payers have funded the bills for this beautiful building, and there's a really big reason why it needs to stay the way it is.”
The Coliseum sent out a confidential proposal to area businesses. Lutheran Health Network was among the group that received the proposal. Below is Lutheran's response:
"Lutheran Health Network has reviewed the proposal for naming rights and determined that pursuing this type of opportunity would be inconsistent with our healthcare mission. Although we strongly support the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum and those who have served our country, this initiative fails to mesh with our priority to deliver quality healthcare while being good stewards of healthcare resources."
UPDATE: Coliseum General Manager, Randy Brown, just returned to town and told NBC33 that the name change would be for the arena where most sporting events and concerts are held The name of the whole complex will remain the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.
"The name of the complex is, and always will be the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum," Randy Brown said. "But just as we have the 'Appleseed Room' or the 'Red Room' or the 'White Room,' currently we have 'The Arena.' So to hypothetically have an X-Y-Z name on the arena - that's a possibility. But again, the name of the complex will always be the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum."
For the past 22 years, to Coliseum has had over 1 million visitors each year and averages between 1,300 and 1,500 events annually. So as Brown points out, it's easy to see why so many companies are interested in partnering with the facility.
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