A number of our readers have been asking questions about just what the naming rights deal between Old National Bank and Vanderburgh County says. Well, here it is so satisfy your curiosities and comment all you like.

Yes, the document is signed by all three County Commissioners and by ONB CEO Bob Jones. The price for the naming rights is “up to $14 Million” with no lower limit whatsoever. The Centre has new signage and ONB has certainly fulfilled its obligation to pay “up to $14 Million” even if not a dime has changed hands.

There is no reference at all to the value of the naming rights as appraised by a knowledgable professional.  Please click link below to review this agreement.


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  1. We’ve all seen this document . BUT WHERE is the consultant’s study which place a value on the naming rights ? That’s the one we’d like to see.

    Contract is so vague it is unenforceable.

    • We do not have that. When listening to Bob Jones testimony that he was going to invest $11 million and that the naming rights are $6.5 Million short, implies that the valuation was determined to be $4.5 Million for 30 years. Given the Ford Center’s $400,000 per year in a private transaction, the size differences, and the use differences, the $4.5 Million seems about right. Until we see otherwise that will be our assumption.

      • Why would an executive say he was going to invest $ 11 million, then have an attorney draft an agreement that says he will invest ” up to $ 14 million” ?

    • Good commentary everyone! The consultant’s report is a private, corporate document that should have been done before ONB made the original pledge. That is where the screwup began. The appraisal was required and (again, should have been done before all of this) to satisfy the bank regulators due to the tightened oversight. If I was ONB, I would not have offered to by the naming rights. No good deed goes unpunished. The real question is that if this was a viable investment, why is there not other private parties coming forward? That says it all.

      • John M., ONB had to have given a copy of the consultant’s valuation to the Mayor.

        If ONB gave Mayor a copy: it’s a public document

        If ONB did NOT give Mayor a copy: then stick them with their contract for the full $ 14 Million.

  2. ONB and their minions in the county govt really screwed us on this one. Who paid for the new signs?

    • This is absolutely nothing. We should be pleased that ONB stepped in with a donation. The Centre is a charity case, it’s been a loser since day 1. The only people who ever turned a profit on the center was the union construction workers and a few local strap hangers. When the Centre was completed in the late nineties and all the data and cost was in, one local democrat, specifically, Betty Knight Smith, stated that if we knew all about this we would never have voted for it.

    • There are no new signs! They started calling it Old National Events Plaza one year ago but the signs were never put up. It still says The Centre. Old signs, old name.

  3. Simple, Mr.Jones apparently wanted to be savior of the hotel deal…came before the City Council and when Friend asked him, quote, “do you vouch for HCW” Friend asked, (remember Friend was denied access to HCW’s historic financial information) and Mr. Jones said, “I would not be investing 11.5 million” implying the seal of approval of HCW…never qualifying the investment based on some abstract notion. Some moles allegedly indicated that Mr. Jones’ attempted to sell 23 positions in a private offering only three takers were procured. Knowing that the private equity side of ONB would reject the proposition of investing in the deal in the totality, the idea of pre-paid advertising was hatched. Unfortunately, impairment raised it’s ugly head, some crazy pronouncement derived from the Enron Days when over-valued assets were placed on publicly traded balance sheets requiring annual assessment of value determination, commonly referred to as Impairment, normally, this would have been a fantastic solution to this formidable problem, but, here comes those damned auditors, Of course, Winneck would sell his soul for this bastardized deal. Like clockwork, Winnecke, instead of accepting full responsibility, deflects and blames everybody but himself, how predictable!!!

    • Holy, I was at the meeting when Bob Jones came before Council.

      While you can certainly argue that Jones gave HCW “the seal of the approval”, that should not have been good enough for City Council–unless, of course, they were going to hold ONB’s feet-to-the-fire and say that if HCW came up short on the dough, ONB would make up the difference. That obviously did not happen.

      But City Council didn’t do that. If they took a one-liner from Bob Jones as giving them cover to approve $ 20 Million of public funds, with no further vetting, then the Council erred greatly. Indeed, in hindsight, if HCW and LW had not failed so spectacularly, and bailed out City Council, City Council would be looking EVEN MORE foolish right now !

      • Bus_Stop

        Are you saying that Mr. Jones isn’t a man of his word? This gentleman is the CEO of a ten BILLION dollar bank, the largest Indiana based bank??? Are you nuts…and then blame the Council?? He clearly made the comment in front of God and our community…and, you think somebody on our City Council should have said, prove the financial abilities of not only HCW, but that of ONB…wow, then the bloggers, newspaper, and whoever would have said, what the hell are they smoking…No, just stop covering for who is responsible for this FUBAR, the guy who occupies room 303 in the Civic Center.

        • The CCO came right out and stated that ONB as a public company with shareholders in a regulated industry would not be able to pay more than the advertising value. We wrote that the day after the announcement. We went on to express an opinion that the value of the advertising based on the comp next door would be around $5 Million for 30 years. The fact that no mainstream media, no one on the City Council, nor the Mayor gave us any credit for that publicly speaks to the power of delusion. Some did privately but groupthink kicked in and blinded the whole bunch. We could have saved the city over a million dollars and the embarrassment of abject failure if only they had listened. If we had been named Hunden we would have been paid $105,000 for our advice.

          • The commitment by Mr. Jones was not qualified…he said plainly, “I would not be investing 11.5 million”, was the I actually I or was it I as the CEO of ONB…reminds me of the definition of what is is…

            • Indeed he did say that. I watched it myself. He did that and he either “knew or should have known” that he could not pay more than actual advertising value. I have no explanation for how he was drawn into the dream quest. It is not typical for a CEO.

          • By the way, ONB, due to the repeal of the Glass-Steagel act on November 17, 1999, as signed by President Clinton, would be permitted to invest the bank’s equity into this half baked venture, however, they apparently considered this a very highly risky venture and would not pass muster, but, the pre-paid advertising was considered directly related to the operational aspect of the bank, i.e amortized into the banking sector and not the derivative sector, subject to the impairment requirements.

            • Which leads me to believe that Bob has a clear understanding of the real value of the investment that ONB has chosen not to invest in or make a loan to. Can you blame them? They have shareholders and regulators to answer to. How would you like to defend making an equity investment in this hotel at a shareholders meeting or to a regulator?

          • Mr. Editor

            Of course not Mr Jones in deed has shareholders to protect and once it was determined that the project was either over budget under capitalized and/or improperly structured or whatever protection of the depositors money would be paramount. We should give him the benefit of the doubt and believe he was not given the complete facts before his apparent commitment.

          • Editor, please post your writeup from the day after the Hotel announcement re: $ 5 Million for 30 years. I will work on getting you the $ 105K, plenty of money to spend on this project.

        • John “Holy Truth” Friend, thank you for explaining my position in this affair. Yes, I can tell, it’s you, by the way, you, use commas. It’s the same, way you use them in your, press releases and, such.

        • @ Holy Truth:

          Yes, I am saying Mr. Jones isn’t a man of his word. Said he would do something (invest $ 11.5 MM), and didn’t do that.

          Yes, I am saying it’s the Council’s fault that they took the word of one man, Evansville Business Hall-of-Famer, and that was “good enough for us” (Council) to approve $ 20 Million of taxpayer funds. You seem to want to defend City Council, yet that action (no vetting, and 9-0 in favor of $ 20 Million) is indefensible.

  4. So we are talking a value of ~$150,000 a year while, ONB has milked this for a year at the cost of new signage ?
    Just wondering how many of the freebies they have received. 10 tickets to each public event held and 2 free rentals per year ?
    At least with the Clarion closing we might need a few more rooms in Little Chicago !
    Better hurry and do a survey before someone buys it up and reopens.

  5. Just curious, didn’t Old National buy the “naming rights” to the Murat Theatre in Indianapolis? Last I heard it was called “The Murat Theatre at Old National Centre”. I wonder what they paid for that opportunity? And did the money actually change hands?

  6. I think the coco will find a mainstream friend in the new owners of WEVV. Stories line this is what they are aiming for. They have to come out with some home runs to get ratings and become a sustainable news product. James retiring will have more eyes looking elsewhere too.

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