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Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal
Larry Chavez stood up from his lunch table Thursday at Panera to leave.
But he didn’t get far before a fellow restaurant patron just couldn’t resist.
“As we got up to leave, this guy said, ‘I’ve got a question for you,’ ” said Chavez, President and CEO of Dreamstyle Remodeling. “He asked me if I could tell him what the new name of the Pit was going to be.”
His answer: The decision is close, and he wants fans to help him close the deal on the final decision.
Yes, the increasingly recognizable Chavez is still enjoying the local celebrity that came earlier this month with his pledging $10 million to the University of New Mexico ($9 million earmarked to the athletics department) in exchange for naming rights for the Pit and the Lobos football stadium.
The two venues at the intersection of Avenida Cesar Chavez and University Boulevard in southeast Albuquerque, per the 10-year contract between Chavez and Learfield Sports, a marketing partner with Lobo athletics, has officially changed the names to Dreamstyle Stadium (football) and Dreamstyle Arena (basketball).
But Chavez sought public input over the past couple weeks for ideas on the permanent names and signage that will go up soon, replacing the “WisePies Arena, a.k.a. the Pit” signage under the previous naming rights agreement with the local pizza chain.
He’s now asking for phase two of the community input front. After receiving hundreds of naming and style suggestions, he has contracted with Albuquerque branding firm K2MD and has placed on his company’s website (www.Dreamstyleremodeling.com) six visual concept proposals for naming and branding of the venues and wants the public to again give their input.
Essentially, the website has pictures of what the new signs could look like, and he wants to know what you think.
“We received great ideas from the community, and we used them in coming up with these concepts,” said Chavez. “We want to keep the community involved in this process, as their input will be a key part of our final decision on both the name and the signage.”
He says a final decision, after “absorbing” the community input, could be as early as the end of next week.
The visual designs and concepts on his site have a space for people to opine on their thoughts, including mixing and matching ideas from different concepts if they’d like. There are pictures of the proposed signage on the venues and a large “monument” – a standalone sign identifying the facility – to be placed on the corner of Cesar Chavez and University.
The monument will either be a 15-foot-high vertical format or a 7-foot-high more horizontal design. In either case, Chavez said it will feature on the backside (facing the Pit and away from the street) an image of Bob King, the former Lobos men’s basketball coach when the arena opened in 1966, and a brief history of the Pit.
Chavez said the idea is similar to what many sporting venues across the country have (or even across the street at Isotopes Park, with the large ball), adding: “The sign will make a bold statement to visitors of the arena and will be a photo opportunity for generations to come.”
While Chavez, a lifelong Lobo fan, fully expected people to express an interest in keeping the Pit a part of the name, he said he was still surprised “by just how much passion there was for us to keep the Pit in the name. People really are passionate about that.”
He will oblige, though it’s not yet certain whether it will be known as Dreamstyle Arena at the Pit, The Pit at Dreamstyle Arena or some other combination of the two (fans can still submit suggestions on that when they view the visual concept designs on the website).
For the football stadium. it seems clear that people want the name to be Dreamstyle Stadium, but the exact signage concepts can be viewed on his website.