HP Pavilion surprise: Home of San Jose Sharks could get new name
City officials were caught off guard Tuesday by a report that troubled Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) wants to scrape its name from the home of the San Jose Sharks hockey team, but said they'd have little trouble finding a new corporate sponsor and name for HP Pavilion. "It's a world-class facility and excellently run, so we'd expect a lot of companies around the world would be interested in future naming-rights opportunities," said Leland Wilcox, an assistant to City Manager Debra Figone. Like other city officials, Wilcox was unaware of any talks about an early end to HP's agreement. But a source told this newspaper that a new agreement is under discussion for renaming HP Pavilion, which is more popularly known to NHL fans as the "Shark Tank." The source did not say who those talks were with. Any changes would need to be approved by the City Council. In 2002, HP acquired Compaq and the naming rights to the former Compaq Center. It pays $3.25 million a year for that privilege, and the payments are split between the city of San Jose, which owns the building, and the hockey team. HP Pavilion is named after the company's suite of laptops, PCs and printers, and the agreement runs through 2015. But the influential tech blog AllThingsD, citing unnamed sources, reported Tuesday that HP CEO Meg Whitman wants out of the deal as early as this summer. According to the report, German-based software giant SAP is interested in the naming rights. Hasso Plattner, the Sharks majority owner, founded SAP. Plattner and SAP did not respond to requests for comment. HP declined to comment, as did Sharks spokesman Jim Sparaco. Mayor Chuck Reed's spokeswoman, Michelle McGurk, said in a note to council members that there have been no talks about changing the name. "City staff has not met with the other parties so far, so there is nothing to report at this time," McGurk wrote to council members in response to media inquiries. "However, we know that the arena is an outstanding facility, and we have enjoyed a long and productive relationship with both the Sharks and HP. Without speculating where this might go, we're optimistic that we will be able to end up in a position of mutual benefit for everyone."
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