Iowa’s Community Choice Credit Union was doing marketing damage control Tuesday in the wake of a civic flap over its winning signage rights at a refurbished Des Moines veterans convention center set to open in three weeks.
“It’s unfortunate that at a press briefing there was misinformation relayed of exactly what facilities would have our name,” explained Josh Cook, vice president of operations and business development for the $327 million Community Choice of Johnston, a Des Moines suburb.
Veterans groups calling in to TV stations apparently objected to the reports that the Veterans Memorial Auditorium and Convention Center would be renamed the “Community Choice Convention Center” when only the internal rooms of the convention center portion would have the Community Choice moniker.
The Iowa CU had earlier signed a $2.5 million, 10-year deal with the Polk County Board of Supervisors and partners in the renovation project to retain the Community Choice name on rooms within the facility.
“But there were no plans of any sort to alter any of the signage on the outside of the building,” said Cook.
The auditorium, which is in the midst of a $43 million renovation set to open Jan. 9, will include eight exhibits dedicated to Iowa servicemen and women and images, personal stories and statistics from every conflict since Iowa's statehood in 1846, according to a press release from the Polk County Board of Supervisors.
The board was scheduled to discuss the naming controversy at a meeting Tuesday.
On its website, the CU stressed its long ties with veterans and said its "primary concern was making sure that our veterans were properly honored. It was our belief that if the building itself was being renovated, the dedication to veterans should also be improved. We believed that if a naming rights sponsor was to exist, it firmly needed to be one that would make sure that honoring veterans came first.”
As evidence of its commitment to veterans and as part of the naming program, the CU said it donated $25,000 to the Des Moines Vet Center, called by veterans groups the largest contribution it had received.
Community Choice stressed that the naming arrangement was one that was a “very long and thought-out process” since it felt close to the veterans community considering it has employees and board members who are veterans.
“In addition to making sure that a naming sponsor was one that had veterans at the forefront of their decision, Community Choice also wanted to make an immediate impact on also helping veterans” by extending the $25,000 donation, said the website.
Cook said he thought more of the public confusion might be cleared up during Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Polk County Board.