January 10th, 2007

City Policy for Naming Rights Sales Sketched In

By Eric LaRose
Sheboygan Press (WI)

The City of Sheboygan took one of the final steps Monday night to sell the naming rights for city facilities and programs.

The Common Council’s Finance Committee unanimously recommended the city approve a draft of naming rights policies, which set the guidelines for what can be named and who can name it.

It will be submitted to the Common Council for a vote next week.

The policy is based largely on a Sheboygan Area School District program, which has generated more than $1.6 million over the last four years to help fund programs and facilities.

Paulette Enders, city director of planning and development and chair of the Naming Rights Committee that developed the policy, said selling naming rights could help to raise awareness of city projects and facilities and provide funding options for the city.

“It will free up other dollars to undertake other projects that may have gone to some of these public improvements projects and maintenance,” Enders said.

Ald. Mark Hanna, who worked on the naming rights policies for both the city and the school district, said it’s hard to say if the city would benefit as greatly as the school district has from selling off naming rights, but there are plenty of prospects.

“You never know as these things come up,” Hanna said. “I think you’re going to see some people step forward and do some neat things.”

Ald. Jim Bohren of the Finance Committee said other communities have successfully sold naming rights in return for things that benefit their communities.

“When I went to go look at the police station in Janesville, the Optimist’s Club had donated $10,000 for a playroom for children to use while the adults doing their business at the police station,” Bohren said. “So, there are all kinds of opportunities.”

Enders said there are currently no talks with potential contributors, but in the future, many things in the city could be named.

“I suppose the sky’s the limit,” Enders said. “Potentially, it could be the water fountain, the proposed pedestrian bridge, some of the park structures.”

Under the policy, the city will sell five-year naming rights commitments to people, organizations or entities that “are of exemplary moral character; have made an outstanding contribution to the community or have displayed outstanding leadership.”

Projects may be named after contributors who have donated 50 percent of the project costs to the city for projects over $50,000 and five-year sponsorships are only available for donations over $100,000.

The Common Council will have the final vote on approving naming rights, and once a facility has been officially named, it shall not be renamed except for compelling reasons to be determined by a vote of the Common Council, with at least three-fourths voting in favor. 

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