QUESTIONS have been raised over the Spinnaker Tower’s future paint job as a multi-million pound sponsorship deal with Emirates is due to end.
The 560ft attraction in Gunwharf Quays was white when opened in 2005 but was repainted blue, gold and white when Portsmouth City Council struck a five-year deal with the Dubai-based airline 10 years later.
Now a council team is going out marketing the chance to sponsor the tower - throwing into question how it will look in the future.
Deputy leader Councillor Steve Pitt, who said the starting point for discussions will be returning the tower to white, said: ‘Everything is a negotiation, if somebody came to offer £10m but we need to leave it the same way, that’s a discussion about prioritising council services.
‘It all depends on who comes forward.
‘We’re going out to market the opportunity and we’ll see what comes out of that.
‘The starting position for us is: it was designed to be an iconic structure and that design included it being painted white and therefore that should be the starting point.
‘It shouldn’t be the starting point that “okay, you can sponsor it and paint it whatever you like.’
There was fury when the Emirates deal first came to light as the initial plans would have seen the tower painted red - the colours of Pompey rival team Southampton FC.
Backlash from across Portsmouth saw the designs change to the current blue, gold and white design.
The team working on clinching a deal hope to finalise a sponsor by spring.
Currently the deal with Emirates brings in £750,000 a year for the council.
That is set to expire in June next year with the race on to replace or keep Emirates.
Speaking at a council meeting on Tuesday Cllr Pitt said: ‘The administration retains the view it had in opposition. It’s the preference for Spinnaker Tower to be painted white and only have the logo of the sponsor on it.’
Cllr Pitt added: ‘The current sponsorship deal with Spinnaker Tower ends in June next year. The council is exploring further options for future sponsorship.
‘The process is currently being formulated, the work has started.
‘There is a team in place to take that forward and as and when there’s anything to report we will report.’
Tory group leader Donna Jones asked if the Liberal Democrat administration had plans in place to account for a £750,000 a year budget gap that would appear if a new sponsor is not signed up.
Cllr Pitt said: ‘The sponsorship deal we have at the moment lasts until 2020, there’s no plan to make £750,000 additional savings because there’s a plan to have a sponsor.’