Mercer Island Urged To Re-Name Community Center

A marketing firm hired by the city recommended the re-branding of the community center to attract greater use of rental space by off-Island groups, subsidizing reduced rates for locals.

The tonight will consider a proposal to change the name of the city’s to the Mercer Island Community and Event Center.

A consultant hired by the city recommends the change, to make more clear to non-local potential renters the facility’s location and its availability for events such as weddings and bar mitzvahs. These play a large role in subsidizing low rental rates of the center for local residents — rates that were raised slightly last year as the city in the 2011-2012 biennial budget.

At its meeting April 25, the City Council will consider — and could approve — a proposal to authorize the Parks and Recreation Department to give the community center a better name.

A marketing firm, Maple Valley-based OnMerit Marketing, was hired to advise the City of Mercer Island on a re-branding plan for its community center. The problem is that the center’s current name doesn’t clearly convey its convenient and attractive location on Mercer Island, nor does it make clear one of its key functions, as an events facility, available for rent. 


  • Mercer Island’s municipal community center – named the Community Center at Mercer View – gets 75 percent of all room rental revenue from non-local and frequently one-time rentals, which are often for major events such as weddings and bar mitzvahs.
  • The premium rates charged to non-local renters help subsidize lower charges for local residents who use the community center for their own special events as well as for parks program registration; city, pre-school and senior events; display and sales of art; as an information center; and for unstructured social activities.
  • But the facility can be challenging to market to off-island renters, because its name does not make clear its location on the island, or accent the key function it serves as a location for special events. OnMerit Marketing, the consulting firm hired by the city, recommends a new name of Mercer Island Community and Event Center.
  • The Mercer Island name connotes quality and clearly conveys location, while “ëvent” defines a key function missing in the old name. The new name for the center, reflected on the site’s Web pages, would draw more and stickier Web traffic from related keyword searches by potential renters.
  • The city will be positioned to increase revenues from off-island renters without increasing staff hours devoted to marketing the facility, and expects as a result to be able to avoid raising fees for local renters of the center.

Matt Rosenberg is founder and editor of Public Data Ferret, a project of the non-profit Public Eye Northwest.

Mary Anne Courchene April 25, 2011 at 09:06 PM
I do not live on Mercer Island however I do work there. I agree the re-naming of the facility would be best. It will attract a larger interest in renting the facility out. I am aware of the facility and what it can be used for because I work on MI. If I didn't work here I would assume it is for on Island use only. The new name reflects the want for consideration by a larger community.
Lisa Belden April 25, 2011 at 10:38 PM
If over 75% of the event rentals are already made by off-islanders, doesn't that imply that off-islanders are aware of the facility and aware that off-islanders can rent out space for their events? The center was supposed to be for Island residents. It cost Mercer Islanders a huge amount of money ($12 million or so). Mercer Island residents had voted against building the new center due to its cost and sense that it wouldn't be used enough by islanders to justify the cost. But the Mercer Island city council members went ahead with the project anyway, and funded it by bonds that did not require public vote. Voters told the city council not to build the project, but the wise guys at city hall ignored them. Now the council has apparently spent more public money to hire outside help (when we already pay city staff to work) to figure out ways to increase rentals by off-islanders. Go figure. Maybe that should be the new name of the community center.... Go Figure at Mercer View.
Sarah Waller April 27, 2011 at 11:29 PM
I found the information easily by searching Mercer Island+event venues. It is common sense...people looking for event venues put in key word searches. The City of Mercer Island does not need to hire more consultants....it seems we are consultant heavy and thin on results. Tweak the Community Center website, do some outreach to your target audience , and market to your past customers. There are so many costs associated with a name change.
DeAnn Rossetti April 28, 2011 at 10:21 PM
First of all, hale and well met to Matt Rosenberg, my Facebook friend and fellow journalist! Second, I agree with Sarah Waller and somewhat with Lisa Belden that the Community Center doesn't really need to be re-named, because if so many people have already discovered it for use for events, why make it ultra-obvious by putting the word "Events" in the name? That doesn't make sense. What does make sense is what Sarah is saying about people looking for event venues putting in key word searches and finding out what is available online. Why, when the city has such a shortfall of money, would they deem it necessary to hire an expensive consultant from my neck of the woods to tell them to change their name? That's just a head-scratcher. Lets hope that cooler heads will prevail and the name will remain the same, while some bright marketer gets online and fixes the CCMV web site and does the things Sarah outlines above to get more business.


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