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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sides Square Off In Murat Shrine Theatre Name Battle

The latest wrinkle in the battle over naming rights to the Indianapolis Murat Shrine building is in today's Indianapolis Business Journal. "Shriners weighing legal options against Live Nation" reads, in part:

"Our members are understandably upset," said Greg Miller, a board member of the Murat Temple Association and attorney based in Crawfordsville. "They believe we've participated in this and financially benefitted. We've not."

Miller said the Shriners caught wind of the impending name change in January and sent a letter to the venue's general manager, Terry Hennessey. Miller said the letter demanded that Live Nation seek the Shriners' permission to change the name, but the letter went unanswered.

Hennessey did not return a phone call Friday.

Murat Temple Association directors were shocked to see an announcement about a press conference emblazoned across the building's marquee on Monday, March 15, when they arrived for a board meeting, Miller said. "We were on high alert, scrambling," Miller said. "Obviously, the January letter had fallen on deaf ears."

Miller said the Shriners fired off another letter on Tuesday, and received a reply by e-mail Friday morning from the vice president of legal affairs at Live Nation. Miller said the Shriners' legal counsel would review it and craft a response.

The Shriners' lease with Live Nation allows the tenant to put up signage for sponsors and advertisers, Miller said. The lease also requires that the Murat Theatre retain its historic name. But it's silent on the subject of naming the building. "Unless those rights are specifically given to a tenant, they stay with the landlord," Miller said.

At the press conference on Tuesday, LIve Nation Senior Vice President Tom Mendenhall said the company didn't have to modify its lease with the Shriners before putting Old National's name on the building. "We had the right. It's under the lease agreement," he said.

The Murat Temple Association entered a 50-year lease on Sept. 1, 1995 with Murat Centre LP, a company controlled by Dave Lucas and Sunshine Promotions Inc. The locally based company was later sold to SFX Entertainment Inc. Clear Channel Communications, Inc. later bought SFX. Live Nation is a Clear Channel spin-off.

The building belongs to the Murat Temple Association Inc., a not-for-profit holding company that shares board members with Murat Shrine club. In the name of full disclosure, I am a member of Murat Shrine. We remain the largest Shrine in the world, with 6,500 members throughout central Indiana.

1 comment:

  1. Many in business today have adopted the belief that anything not specifically prohibited is specifically permitted, and that is not the case in either Canadian or American law. I trust the Shrine holding co. will stick to its guns. If the tenant wishes to amend the lease, there is undoubtedly a mechanism for that, and it could be financially worthwhile to consider, but so long as you own the building and do not sign away the naming rights, they remain YOURS. Stick to it!

    Doug Welsh
    Halifax, NS


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