The Last WaMu Branches Standing Don’t Offer Free Checking

Theaters around the country, including in Seattle, still bear the name.

JPMorgan Chase bought most of what was left of Washington Mutual last September, and has since changed the name and sign-age of all WaMu branches to that of Chase. But one relic remains: WaMu Theaters in Seattle, New York, Los Angeles, and eight other cities nationwide (plus London) still sport the failed thrift's name.So will the theaters soon make like the banks and adopt the name of their adopter? Nope. As JPMorgan 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." Washington Mutual obtained 10-year naming rights in a 2006 deal with Qwest Field Event Center's operators.A name change to "FDIC Theater" seems similarly unlikely, however. "JPMorgan 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. Explains Andrew Roe, spokesperson for AEG Live, which manages the Seattle venue: "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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