June 4th, 2009

Naming Rights Considered for Light Rail

By Sean Holstege
The Arizona Republic

Metro light rail is considering whether to sell naming rights for its stations, trains and even the entire 20-mile system.

A committee on Wednesday unanimously recommended to Metro’s board pursuing the idea of “system naming rights,” similar to what sports franchises do with stadiums.

Metro Marketing Director John Farry reported that a Cleveland bus system sold station names to two hospitals for $1.1 million a year. Las Vegas has approved “Nextel Station” on its monorail, and other systems in Florida and Virginia are exploring naming rights, Farry said.

Reaction among city officials on the panel was mixed, but most said the agency needs to look for every penny of revenue it can in the economic downturn.

“I’m enthusiastically in support of pursuing this,” said Phoenix City Manager Frank Fairbanks, the committee’s chairman. “It’s a potentially significant source of revenue for a system we are desperate to find funding for.”

The same committee on Wednesday recommended a $34 million operating budget that calls for fewer trains on Sundays and shorter trains in the summer.

Metro had a no-advertising policy on trains when the system opened in December. Now, it is three weeks from accepting bids from advertising agencies to sell ads on and in trains and at stations.

Everyone on the panel agreed the naming-rights challenge is finding appropriate sponsors.

“I guess we would not want an Ex-Lax Station,” Fairbanks quipped.

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