NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Cities for Sale

June 17, 2003

Cities across the nation are striking deals with corporate sponsors, in effect selling their names and prestige to the highest bidder as they try to ease financial problems without raising taxes.

  • Portland, Ore., had 92 basketball courts resurfaced by Nike; in exchange, the company was allowed to put its famous swoosh logo on the courts.
  • The Buncombe County (Asheville, N.C.) Parks and Recreation Department is offering naming rights to tennis courts, swimming pools and hiking trails.
  • Phoenix is considering a naming rights program that could generate up to $1 million annually; Philadelphia hopes for $3 million.
  • Palo Heights, a suburb of Chicago, is trying to sell naming rights to Lake Katherine, a 158-acre nature preserve.
  • New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has hired a consultant to consider selling sponsorships for parks in the city.

Although some cities have reaped millions of dollars by selling naming rights for stadiums and arenas to corporations, some opponents decry the growing popularity of such deals as gross commercialism that intrudes on their life and culture.

Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles have rejected sponsorships for subway stations, a football stadium and other facilities.

Source: Larry Copeland, "Cities in need selling themselves," USA Today, June 1, 2003.


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