Administrators pondering new naming rights plan for Diddle

As renovations to Diddle Arena continue, Western administrators are considering a naming rights plan that would allow the facility’s namesake – former coach E.A. Diddle – to remain unchanged.

President Gary Ransdell said the university is pondering the pursuit of four “cornerstone partners.” Under that plan, Western would seek four donors that would attach their name to one of four new entrances to the arena when it reopens in November.

Tax issues surrounding a corporate sponsor adding its name to the arena caused many administrators concern, said Tom Hiles, vice president for Institutional Advancement.

Western had been seeking a $6 million commitment over 20 years for arena naming rights.

But Hiles said the cornerstone system allows for more stability. Rather than having one overall corporate sponsor, Diddle would have four equal donors. It would be more difficult to replace one major sponsor, he said, if that single sponsor backed out.

Ransdell said the cornerstone concept is only in the planning stage.

Athletics director Wood Selig said each entrance to the arena, under the cornerstone plan, would have a theme attached to it. It’s a setup similar to naming rights opportunities in some arenas of the National Basketball Association.

University officials are convinced the new naming rights plan is a good concept, Hiles said.

Western is negotiating for the naming rights to one of the entrances, but would not release any details. He said he hopes to have all four sponsors in line by the start of the basketball season.

“I think this is a best-case scenario for everyone involved,” he said.

Reach Molly O’Connor at [email protected]