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Issue date: March 10, 2000

Lycos angling for Amphitheatre deal Lycos angling for Amphitheatre deal (March 10, 2000)

Isn't it ironic that on the day voters went to the polls in droves to voice their opinions in the California primary, there was nary a citizen to comment either yes or no on a proposal with major implications for Mountain View?

"People don't attend study sessions," said Mayor Rosemary Stasek, commenting on the total lack of citizen comment at a meeting this week on a proposal to rename Shoreline Amphitheatre "Lycos Amphitheater at Mountain View."

The proposal was put forth by the amphitheatre operator, SFX/Bill Graham Presents as a way to help the amphitheatre generate added revenue and stay competitive, and also as a way for Mountain View to gain added annual revenue from the facility.

One interesting aspect of the proposal is the partners' plan to contribute a minimum of $130,000 each year in financial support for local nonprofit agencies, which always face major struggles as they seek funding. And SFX/BGP have added the feature of allowing Mountain View to try the name change and withdraw after the first concert season if the changeover wasn't to the city's liking.

Commercial sponsorship of amphitheatres is a nationwide trend, and Mountain View has been approached before, by Yahoo, which also sought to purchase the name. That proposal was turned down, due in a large part to resistance by the community to losing the amphitheatre's identity to a commercial sponsor.

Things move quickly in the entertainment industry, and less so in government, and so the city council was rightly troubled by SFX/BGP's desire for a quick answer. It's another case of "when it's gone, it's gone forever," and the council has to take great care and deliberation in making a decision like this, one we'll all have to live with for a long time.

The Tuesday night presentation by proponents of the name change left several major unanswered questions. One of the biggest issues, we believe, is financial.

Beyond the $130,000 promised to nonprofits, what does Mountain View stand to gain financially by giving up the amphitheatre's historic and geographic identity? The SFX/BGP partners have not made public any figures on what the added revenue to the city would be. We can't imagine how the discussion can proceed without that information.

Other questions arise: What happens to the amphitheatre's new name if the Lycos name disappears? The high-tech world is full of acquisitions and name changes. Would a new and possibly unappealing name be imposed on the local amphitheatre in that case?

Beyond these questions, some aspects of the discussion left us uneasy. When it comes to corporate good citizenry, we can think of many examples of companies that have contributed significantly to Mountain View, but asked for no special recognition in return. Look at what HP, SGI, Alza and others have done for our school children. We, too, are surprised when corporate philanthropy arises at the same time as a major proposal that would benefit that company.

We elect city council members to represent our interests. We can't have a referendum on every topic that comes before the city. But on certain major changes, council members especially need to hear what citizens want, so that those council members can truly represent the people who put them in office and so they can shape the community according to the desires of its residents.

If you were among the thousands of local residents who didn't attend Tuesday's study session, there's still hope. Let the council know what you think about the proposed amphitheatre name change. Over and over, council members emphasized the need for public comment on the issue.

You can e-mail council members at:

Or, let your voice be heard by filling in our handy coupon on this page and sending it to The Voice. (Sorry, you'll have to spring for the stamp.) 


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