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From Municipal Auditorium to Enterprise Center

September 17, 2018 Downtown, Featured No Comments

Buildings used to be named after a person, usually a man, that had the building built or perhaps as a memorial to a prominent figure.

Opened in 1934 as the Municipal Opera House/Municipal Auditorium, the building was bounded by Market on the North, Clark on the South, 14th on the East and 15th on the West. This 1934 photo was by Charles Trefts, click image for source.

The first nine years it remained Municipal Auditorium, but in 1942 2-term (1913-25) former mayor, a Republican, Henry Kiel died at age 71. The building was quickly renamed after him.

The arena, completed in 1934, at a cost of $6 million, seated 9,300 and was built by Fruin-Colnon Construction. It was originally named the Municipal Auditorium, but was renamed in honor of former St. Louis Mayor Henry Kiel in 1943. A unique feature of the auditorium was that it was split into two; the front of the building was the Kiel Opera House. It was possible to use both sides at once as the stages were back to back. President Harry Truman gave a speech there in which both sides were opened to see his speech. (Wikipedia)

Both sides of the Kiel closed in 1991 as the auditorium portion on the South was demolished to make way for a new sports arena.

In 1992/3 the convention hall at the back was razed to construct a new sports arena

Construction on the new Kiel Center moved quickly.

The arena opened in 1994 to replace Kiel Auditorium, where the Saint Louis University college basketball team had played, which was torn down in December 1992. The Blues had played in the St. Louis Arena prior to moving into Kiel Center in 1994; however, they would not play in the arena until January 1995 due to the lockout that delayed the start of the 1994-95 season. The first professional sports match was played by the St. Louis Ambush, an indoor soccer team. (Wikipedia)

The city, via the Treasurer’s office, built a parking garage to the West.

Today it’s still called Kiel Center Parking.

Meanwhile, a new company was formed in the St. Louis region.

Savvis was founded in November 1995 under the name DiamondNet by CTO/COO Timothy Munro Roberts and CEO Andrew Gladney. The two had met in the St. Louis area in 1994 where both lived, with Roberts working for a computer store and Gladney a customer. Gladney put up the initial capital ($600,000 or $1 million, according to different sources) for a 75% stake in the startup, with Roberts’ stake the remaining 25%.

Gary Zimmerman, recruited by Roberts from SBC Communications Inc. to become Vice President of Engineering at Savvis in November 1995, built out Robert’s first national network design. The original network design was unique within the industry at the time it became fully operational, and there was significant coverage and discussion in the trade press regarding both the network and its architect, Roberts. In 2001, the last year in which Robert’s original design was in use, Savvis was ranked the #1 fastest Backbone Network by Keynote Systems, an independent network ratings service. (Wikipedia)

After being acquired by another company in 1999 it was spun out on its own in 2000. That year Savvis inked a 20 year deal for the naming rights — making the Kiel Center the Savvis Center.  However, in 2006 they changed their minds:

The agreement had been set to expire in 2020. But Savvis paid $5.5 million to back out of the deal.

Savvis says the Kiel Center Partners still have the option to keep Savvis’s name on the arena.

The company says it is not having cash flow problems.

Savvis had originally agreed to pay $62 million in annual installments for the naming rights. (St. Louis Public Radio)

That same year, 2006, the RFT named former Savvis CEO Robert McCormick as Best Local Boy Gone Bad:

Hometown network provider Savvis Inc.’s stock price may have been in free-fall, but that didn’t stop Robert McCormick from rolling high. During a 2003 outing to a Manhattan strip club, the lusty CEO and father of three allegedly racked up a $241,000 tab on his corporate AmEx card and then, when the bill came due, welshed. McCormick, who’d ultimately tender his resignation over the matter, didn’t deny visiting the New York pleasure dome on the night in question but insisted he couldn’t have spent more than $20,000. And ever- attentive to the line between business and pleasure, the CEO never asked Savvis to reimburse him for the trip. (RFT)

Savvis’ stock value was also related to the end of the naming rights deal, apparently they paid for the rights in stock. Savvis is still local, now a subsidiary of a Louisiana-based company.

Looking north toward the Scottrade Center at 14th & Clark

In September 2006 local brokerage firm Scottrade stepped in to rename the facility Scottrade Center. After a decade Scottrade announced it was being acquired by Omaha-based TD Ameritrade. By September 2017 TD Ameritrade completed the acquisition of Clayton-based Scottrade. No surprise, a company from Omaha Nebraska isn’t going to keep paying to sponsor a facility in another city.

St. Louis-based Enterprise had been looking to sponsor a local sports facility:

Enterprise’s National Car Rental brand was slated to be the sponsor of the proposed St. Louis riverfront football stadium in 2015 as National Car Rental Field. The St. Louis Rams football team ultimately moved to Los Angeles and the football stadium was never built. The 20-year naming rights agreement would have been worth $158 million. (Post-Dispatch)

After the Blue’s and Enterprise announced the deal in May 2018 the Scottrade name was quickly removed.

September 1st very little had changed, an Enterprise banner had been added on the SW corner but smaller sponsors remained, though one was covered.
On September 6th the names of smaller sponsors were being removed.
And Enterprise Center was installed.

The current deal is for 15 years — until 2033. Will Enterprise still be a St. Louis company? Hopefully private ownership and long family roots will keep the company here. I’d say the odds are good this 15-year deal will last until the end.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

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