OUR VIEW: G-Braves hit a homer with Coolray Field

It's a good name, and not just for the Daily Post's headline writers. Coolray Field has a nice ring to it, and for the Gwinnett Braves and the county so do the financial numbers it represents.

At a time when the economy is pitching shutouts, the G-Braves came up with a big hit in the form of a sponsor to purchase naming rights for the stadium.

The G-Braves announced this week that they reached a deal with Coolray Heating and Cooling, a multi-year contract believed to be worth at least $10 million over 16 years. Terms of the deal were not released, but Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Preston Williams said it will represent about $4.5 million to the county over the 16 years, calling it "a significant deal and a good one in tough economic times like these."

It was a year later than the team and county had hoped, but the G-Braves will open their second season in a newly named stadium. Under the terms of the stadium lease, the Braves receive the first $350,000 of naming rights revenue each year, the county is to receive up to the next $350,000 with anything above that split between the two parties.

Revenue from naming rights was expected to play an important part in the county paying off the $33 million in bonds on the ballpark, which cost $64 million. Higher collections than expected from a 3 percent tax on rental vehicles helped the county cover for not having revenue from naming rights last year. Chairman Charles Bannister said "we're in good shape" financially with the stadium, but this week's announcement will only help ensure that. Plus, it's a neat name, a nice double play for the team and the county.

The season doesn't start until April 8 at Coolray Field, but both entities can already chalk up a victory.

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