NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 28, 2006

A growing number of cash-strapped cities and schools are selling naming rights to parks, gyms, locker rooms and even the principal's office, say observers. 

Schools have been selling the rights for several years, and now an increasing number of cities are joining the trend, receiving in excess of $500,000 for naming big facilities says Larry Foxman of the National League of Cities.

Some examples include:

  • The Santa Cruz, Calif., parks and recreation department is trying to sell naming rights to a skate park to repay a $300,000 construction loan.
  • In Newburyport, Mass., the high school offers naming rights to the principal's office for $10,000, the auditorium for $100,000 and English classrooms for $5,000 each, according to its foundation's website.
  • The Clark, Texas, council voted in November to rename the town DISH in exchange for a decade of free satellite TV from the DISH Network. The deal was worth $4,500 to each of DISH's 55 homeowners.

Critics argue against commercializing civic buildings.  The answer to budget woes isn't for cities and schools "to put themselves up for sale," says Gary Ruskin of Commercial Alert, a non-profit group.  "It shows the decline in our values."

But Dean Bonham, CEO of the Bonham Group, a sports marketing company that negotiates naming rights, says the deals work for schools and cities because "it costs them nothing to create this revenue."  For companies, it's "the best marketing platform available."

Source: Judy Keen, "Wis. schools find corporate sponsors," USA Today, July 28, 2006


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