Three downtown Omaha parks near the Missouri River are getting a new, all-encompassing name after months of work by marketing professionals.

The Omaha Parks Board on Thursday — and the city’s Naming Committee last week — signed off on calling all 90 acres “The RiverFront.”

The Gene Leahy Mall, Heartland of America Park and Lewis & Clark Landing will retain their individual names, the city says.

The Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority paid Omaha marketing group Bailey Lauerman $80,000 to tie the parks together.

MECA, which is overseeing nearly $300 million in renovations to the three parks, says it obtained the money from a mix of city and private funds.

The aim is to give the parks an Omaha-specific brand and logo as a true outdoor destination for residents and visitors.

Omaha Parks Director Brook Bench, before the Parks Board vote, said he was particularly pleased that the group found a way to preserve the Leahy name.

“I think it’s great we kept the names and added ‘The RiverFront,’ ” said Parks Board member Adelaide Kinghorn. “I think this is very, very good.”

Bailey Lauerman’s chief creative director, Carter Weitz, said the name that made the most sense was the one that Omaha residents already use.

Sign up for The World-Herald's afternoon updates

Receive a summary of the day’s popular and trending stories from

Even the logo should look familiar, he said. Its three “ripples” bend like the Missouri River at Omaha, he explained.

Keeping the name works because Omaha’s riverfront doesn’t yet evoke a mental image, said Jessica Jarosh, Bailey Lauerman’s head of account leadership.

“To promote it, we needed to brand it,” Weitz said.

Omaha City Council members Ben Gray and Brinker Harding said they think “The RiverFront” does a nice job of tying together the parks.

The last hurdle for the new name is City Council approval, which is expected over the next several weeks.

Public reaction was mixed.

Downtown resident Monica Stoops, who said she was in her late 40s, expressed relief that the marketers didn’t overthink a name that works.

“I think it does a good job of letting people know the three parks are tied in with the riverfront,” she said while walking her dog, Ms. J.

Others, including downtown resident Lee Myers, questioned the wisdom of paying a marketing firm to come up with a name that fits many cities.

“I think it needed to be done,” said Myers, 76, who suggested asking the public. “It’s just in the usual unimaginative way.”

Local marketer Melissa Mroczek, 42, was OK with the name but said an employee at MECA or the city could have come up with it for less.

“I can’t believe they spent the money,” she said.

Katie Krcmarik, an assistant professor of practice in advertising and design at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said she sees merit in the attempt to create a clear identity for each park under a shared umbrella.

Similar efforts are common across the country, building identities for neighborhoods and parks, she said, pointing to Omaha neighborhoods like Dundee and Benson and their efforts to stand out.

Phani Tej Adidam, a professor of marketing and entrepreneurship at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, said there’s social and economic value in branding a destination like Omaha’s “RiverFront.”

People will feel a greater sense of ownership in the place, he said, and that will give residents and developers more confidence to invest in the area. He pointed to the recent success of Aksarben Village as an example.

“I support the concept,” he said. “And I think it is long overdue.”

Get the latest health headlines and inspiring stories straight to your inbox.

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.