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RYAN BAKKEN: You can sponsor Bakken's column -- for a price

If you ignore inflation, the cost of naming rights has remained stable in Grand Forks. Ten years ago, Alerus Financial spent $3 million to place its name on the events center. Last week, Choice Financial paid $2.75 million for a new fitness cente...

Ryan Bakken
Ryan Bakken

If you ignore inflation, the cost of naming rights has remained stable in Grand Forks.

Ten years ago, Alerus Financial spent $3 million to place its name on the events center. Last week, Choice Financial paid $2.75 million for a new fitness center to be named Choice Wellness Center.

The Park District also is auctioning naming rights for other portions of the center, such as the tennis courts and basketball courts. Rumor has it that they're also auctioning the exercise bike I was riding when I keeled over with chest pains. Because of a bidding war between Ed Schultz and Scott Hennen, the exercise bike naming rights may be more lucrative than the building.

Big, public buildings aren't the only facilities that attract corporate sponsors. For instance, Vilandre's Heating/Air Conditioning of Grand Forks owns the naming rights to the studio that holds the Tim and Swyg radio show, the daily morning tribute to Fighting Sioux sports, testosterone and political

incorrectness.

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I thought the Vilandre Studio's on-air mentions were an inside joke, since the studio temperature often has been 120 degrees when I've visited. But Vilandre's actually pays for the plug.

If Vilandre's is willing to spend real money on studio rights, I'm left wondering how much money my column naming rights might land. As in the case of the Alerus Center and the Choice Wellness Center, I'll be seeking a bank for my naming results. Why? You know they're good for the money.

My first pick for the naming rights would be Gate City because it has the best bank lobby cookies in town. If Gate City couldn't find an unemployed widow to foreclose on one month for the cash for the rights, they could pay me off in chocolate chip cookies.

I'm not overly fussy about my corporate banking brand, however. Bank Forward is a cool name, but I'm not sure a gray-haired geezer is the corporate image they're seeking if they're moving forward. Bremer and American Federal would be OK, and US Bank has a patriotic ring that is in fashion. I'm guessing stagecoach rides would be part of any deal with Wells Fargo.

It's a good thing Community Bank of the Red River Valley changed its name to Frandsen Bank & Trust. The old name wouldn't be considered because it's too wordy. Columnists are supposed to write concisely.

If, for some unfathomable reason, no local bank is interested, I'd look to the region. I could have some fun with Goose River Bank of Hillsboro and Mayville, N.D., and Ultima Bank of Fosston, Minn., has that same made-up-word buzz as Alerus.

After the main sponsor is decided, I will take a page from the Park District playbook. I'll also be accepting naming rights bids for my computer, notepad and pencil.

Reach Bakken at (701) 780-1125; (800) 477-6572, ext. 125; or send e-mail to rbakken@gfherald.com .

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