Case Study


Find a suitable naming rights partners for Elk River’s new multi-purpose facility


City of Elk River

Goal of Project:

In early 2020, Front Burner Sports and Entertainment was hired by the City of Elk River to find and negotiate naming rights and sponsorships to help operational expenses associated with the reconstruction of a new state of the art multi-purpose facility, replacing the old Elk River Arena. This facility was set to be the cornerstone of the Active Elk River project, an initiative that was overwhelmingly passed by city residents to invest in city amenities that would benefit every generation. Given that residents rallied behind this project and went to great lengths to have this project become a reality, the City expressed to Front Burner a strong desire to have as many of the partners as possible be established businesses within the local community.

Front Burner Sports’ Game Plan

Knowing the need to stay local, Front Burner went to work designing a sponsorship model that sub-divided the available opportunities, creating naming rights programs built around not only the facility but it’s individual amenities as well including a newly-built arena, a practice ice rink, a multi-sport fieldhouse and a community gathering space with a restaurant.

Make a Calculated Effort to Find the Correct Partners:

With opportunities clearly outlined and base programs built around each, Front Burner went to work networking with community leaders in an effort to build the relationships necessary to attract the right group of potential suitors. In total close to twenty-five local companies were identified as potential partners and with the help of the City of Elk River presentations were made to all targeted groups.

Immediate Success:

Early in the process, Front Burner found the ideal partner for naming rights for the facility in Furniture and Things, a long standing member of the local business community that was looking for new ways to connect with consumers while positioning themselves as a champion to the community that has been loyal to them for so many years. Shortly after coming to a fifteen-year agreement to rename the facility the Furniture and Things Community Event Center, additional agreements were reached for naming rights for the new Arena (Cornerstone Automotive), the Practice Ice Rink (Kiser Construction) and for the facility Restaurant (Serrano Brothers Catering). Together these agreements secured more than $2,000,000 in contractually obligated income for the City, which greatly exceeded their original expectations and goals.

Ensuring Activation Was Perfect:

While securing partnerships and the revenue attached to those partnerships was important to the city, ensuring that the facility was branded in a tasteful way was paramount. Front Burner Sports and Entertainment spearheaded this phase of the project and managed all aspects of the design, production and installation of all branded assets for every partner resulting in what is universally recognized as the most impressive facility in the State of Minnesota.

Why It Worked

Elk River’s Perspective:

“The efforts of Chris Potenza and Frontburner Sports greatly exceeded the expectations we had for our naming rights venture. Chris is very detail-oriented, positively relentless, and incredibly responsive which was instrumental in the construction of multiple partnerships with key community leaders. Chris was able to communicate the mutual benefits for local businesses in supporting public facilities and growing their business. As a result of his work and professionalism not only was it a win-win for the city and local businesses, we have further enhanced our greater community pride.”

– Cal Portner, Elk River City Administrator

Furniture & Things Perspective:

“Chris Potenza and Frontburner Sports did a first-class job on the Elk River Community Events Center naming rights deal. We knew we were interested early in the process and Chris worked us through it in a smooth and professional manner. As a local company, we saw this as a great opportunity to show our support for the community and we are very excited about the results”

– Steve Hickman, Co-Owner, Furniture and Things

Chris Potenza portrait shot

Front Burner Sports Perspective

“The Furniture and Things Community Event Center project should serve as the model for every community to strive for. From day one we had a partner in the city of Elk River that fully embraced the process and understood the value of what they were building. Together we were able to secure partnerships with an outstanding group of local partners that included Furniture and Things, Cornerstone Automotive and Kiser Construction. As a result of Elk River’s commitment the community will benefit for generations to come.”

– Chris Potenza, President, Front Burner Sports & Entertainment