Bradenton sale of Riverwalk amphitheater naming rights changes for the better

While environmentalists are outraged that the city of Bradenton would approve the name Mosaic for the new amphitheater in the wonderful Riverwalk project, our initial concern focused on another aspect of this deal.

The Mosaic Company Foundation is the charitable arm of the one of the world's largest producers of concentrated phosphate and potash fertilizer, which has a mining operation near Duette. The foundation purchased the naming rights for $95,000.

Bradenton's City Council got locked in a 2-2 tie last week. Mayor Wayne Poston cast the deciding vote in favor of the sale.

Part of the discussion centered around whether or not the Mosaic name should remain over the amphitheater in perpetuity. Sports stadiums, concert arenas and performing arts halls rarely enter into such permanent agreements, opting instead for a limited number of years that allows the venues to then re-open the competition for naming rights -- and thus earn more revenue.

But all of a sudden, Poston announced Thursday -- the same day a small group of protesters decried the naming agreement -- that Mosaic had sent a letter to the city changing the deal from a permanent one to just 15 years, averaging a little over $6,300 annually. For one of Riverwalk's signature public gathering spots, Mosaic still got a bargain.

That money will help defray some of the park's expenses, costs that would otherwise be shouldered by taxpayers.

The $6.2 million downtown project, which stretches from the Green Bridge to Manatee Memorial Hospital on the Manatee River, is on track to open Oct. 18 -- with both great fanfare and anticipation.