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Muskegon City Manager defends L.C. Walker Arena name change, citing fiscal concerns

A vote is expected next month.

MUSKEGON, Mich. — There were some strong opinions at Tuesday's city commission meeting in Muskegon. The topic: changing the name of the L.C. Walker Arena to the Mercy Health Arena. 

"Sometimes we're too soon to erase our history, and I think we have to be a little bit cautious of that," said one person during public comment.

"Sometimes it's kind of money [that] can make us forget things because we need, need that money," said another individual as they addressed city leaders.

But City Manager Frank Peterson argues that money is needed to keep the L.C. Walker Arena open.

"We need people to invest in our arena; we need them to invest in ours," said Peterson.

That investment is coming from Mercy Health, which has agreed to pay $1.5 million over the next 15 years to officially change the name from the L.C. Walker Arena to Mercy Health Arena.

"We just spent a million dollars on the roof, $600,000 on HVAC, $550,000 on a new dehumidifier, cooling towers, lighting, restrooms, seating, concessions, point of sale system, locker rooms. We're on our third upgrade," said Peterson.

RELATED: Online petition started to stop the L.C. Walker's name change

RELATED: L.C. Walker Arena to change name to Mercy Health Arena

But some say they aren't opposed to a new name, they just don't want the chosen one.

"I also have a problem with the idea that if Mercy Health puts their name on this building, there will be on this building a huge, very prominent cross," said another person during their public comment.

City leaders defended the move by saying there are limited options of who is willing to pay for naming rights.  

They also revealed that descendants of L.C. Walker have given their blessing for the possible change. 

"They are okay with it, they recognize the fiscal challenges of the arena, and they recognize selling naming rights can help save the arena," said Peterson.

A final vote on the name change is expected next month. That could come at a meeting on Dec. 10.


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