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JP Morgan-Chase bought most of what was left of Washington Mutual last September, and has since changed the name and signage of all WaMu branches

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WaMu: No Longer a Bank, But Still a Theater

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JP Morgan-Chase bought most of what was left of Washington Mutual last September, and has since changed the name and signage of all WaMu branches to that of Chase. But one relic remains: WaMu Theaters are still sporting the failed thrift's name in cities like Seattle, New York, and Los Angeles. (There are WaMu Theaters in 11 cities nationwide, as well as one in London.)

So will the theaters soon make like the banks and adopt the name of their adopter? Nope. As JP Morgan-Chase spokesperson Darci Donahoe-Wilmot explains, "We no longer own the [naming rights to the] WaMu Theaters. They were given back to the FDIC [Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation] back in December." WaMu obtained 10-year naming rights in a deal with Qwest Field Event Center's operators that was reached in 2006.

A name change to "FDIC Theater" seems similarly unlikely, however. "JP Morgan Chase bought all of the assets of Washington Mutual," says FDIC spokesperson Greg Hernandez. "The FDIC served as a receiver and never owned any of the bank's assets."

For an explanation that doesn't require an MBA, what it all boils down to is sponsorship, of which naming rights is a high-dollar form. As Andrew Roe, spokesperson for AEG Live, which manages the Seattle/Qwest venue, explains: "WaMu Theater is the name of the venue until a new sponsor is brought on." When that will be, in this economy, is anyone's guess.

 
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