With vote, facility becomes ‘Mizzou Arena’

The name will need to be changed on signs, brochures and the basketball court.
Sunday, November 28, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 8:35 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 5, 2008

The athletic department will shoulder the estimated $30,000 to $40,000 it will cost to change the name of MU’s new arena, after UM system curators voted on Friday to change the name from Paige Sports Arena to Mizzou Arena.

The name change is effective immediately, but Chad Moeller, MU Manager of Sports Information, said there is no definite timetable for changing the name at the arena itself.

“We’re compiling a list of all the signage, externally and internally,” Moeller said.

The arena’s exterior is not the only place where changes will need to be made. The former name also appears on the basketball court, letterhead, business cards, brochures and schedule cards.

The curators voted unanimously to change the original name, selected by Columbia billionaires Bill and Nancy Laurie in recognition of their 22-year-old daughter, Elizabeth Paige Laurie.

MU Chancellor Brady Deaton recommended Mizzou Arena, and university President Elson Floyd brought the proposal before the UM Board of Curators on Friday in a short telephone conference call. The nine-member board made the decision after little discussion.The name change came three days after Bill and Nancy Laurie relinquished the naming rights that were part of their $25 million donation toward the $75 million facility.

The Lauries, who named the arena after their daughter in March, gave up naming rights after ABC’s “20/20” reported that Paige Laurie’s former roommate, Elena Martinez, said she was paid $20,000 over three years to write dozens of papers for Laurie at the University of Southern California.

“This has been an unfortunate situation for all parties involved, and we look forward to moving on and getting back to business at Mizzou Arena — a facility in which we are very proud to call home,” MU Director of Athletics Mike Alden said in a statement released after the new name was approved.

Curator Angela Bennett said the Lauries’ decision to voluntarily give up naming rights was an honorable one.

State senator-elect Chuck Graham of Columbia, who supported the sale of $35 million in state bonds to help fund the arena, called the new name “an uninspiring choice.” Curators “had the opportunity to do something noble and name it after Norm Stewart,” he said. “I think they should have taken that route.” The court at the new arena was named after the legendary basketball coach in March after the Lauries withdrew an initial stipulation that no part of the arena be named after former players or coaches.

Graham said it remains possible for the school to sell naming rights for the arena, but both Moore and Moeller said that has not been part of the discussion.

“I hope that isn’t their rationale,” Graham said.

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