Having stood for four decades overlooking the city and valley, the Casper Events Center was built tough to withstand the wind, the winters and some very high decibel levels.

Now, it's Ford tough, too, with its official renaming as the Ford Wyoming Center with a low-key ribbon-cutting ceremony and speeches by city officials, the Center's management company and a Ford dealers at a news conference on Thursday.

This marks a major economic boost for the Events Center, which has lost money yearly since its construction in 1982.

The city has subsidized the 28,000-square-foot venue with the understanding that events such as the College National Finals Rodeo will bring thousands to people to the city and they in turn will spend money on food, lodging and other goods and services.

Those are good boosts for the local economy, but don't offset the city's subsidy of about $994,000 a year, the city's Parks and Recreation Director Tim Cortez said.

The new name should change that, Cortez said.

"The sponsorships of this plus the other sponsorships we have in the buildin are driving that 994 lower and lower and lower," he said. "Of course we want to drive that number to zero and eventually start making money in this facility."

To fix that, the city hired Spectra Management four years ago to operate the city-owned facility, and Spectra has been able to use its national clout to bring in major performers.

But Spectra wanted a sponsor for the events center to further reduce the

It began looking about two-and-a-half years ago and didn't have much luck.

Last year, Spectra announced that the Ford dealerships in the state would lend their name to the venue. The negotiations started 18 months ago and the contract was nearly ready a year ago, but the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent economic downturn affected the final contract, Spectra manager Brad Murphy said.

The contract with Ford will be for six years, with the opportunity for a three-year renewal after the first three years.

The initial pledge for the naming rights is $478,450 for the first three years, and that will immediately lop off about $80,000 from city's annual, Murphy said.

The Ford name will enhance the Event's Center's image as Spectra seeks performing acts,  and it could attract other sponsors that already include Sinclair for tickets and Admiral Beverage for Pepsi products, he added.

The building's new name will take a while to take hold with area residents who always have known it as the Casper Events Center, Murphy said.

He declined to answer whether the Ford Wyoming Center will cause people to forget the locally beloved nickname of the "Pizza Hut on the Hill."

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