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Friday, May 21, 2010

Should We Sell Naming Rights To Rock Hill Schools?

The Rock Hill School Administration brought up the issue of selling naming rights to some facilities  during the May work session. They have also submitted  their proposed revision to the existing policy to allow for it to happen....and before the Board has time to discuss the matter, The Rock Hill Herald ran an editorial against it.

Well, I'm in favor of a policy which allows it. I  brought it up in 2001 before the first Shrine Bowl. I thought it would be an ideal time to sell naming rights to District Three Stadium because of the extra publicity (for the donor).

Being in favor of a policy probably would not equate to many venue's actually being renamed. It would take a lot of money to purchases the rights to one of our facilities (more in a moment). But we have already been selling naming rights. One high school sold bricks for an outdoor performance area, a middle school sold benches for an outdoor area, some schools have memorial gardens - so you see - this is not something new.

A review of existing policies across the country yields some general themes:
  • Naming rights go for; benches; stadium seats; gardens; walks; rooms; fields; locker rooms; stadiums; gymnasiums; auditoriums; building wings; ect. The policy needs to spell out what is to be included. The naming rights would last for 25 years, or for the normal age of the facility, whichever happens first.
  • Rights can be purchased for at least 51% of the value (if facility is already installed), 75% of the cost of major construction, or 100% of the cost if the total value is less than $25,000. Usually the donor has 3 to 5 years to complete the donation and the name changes when 50% of the donation has been made. Should the donor fail to complete the donation - the name is dropped and no funds are returned.
  • The funds to name existing structures go into an endowment. The return on the endowment is entered as a line item revenue stream in the budget and communicated to the public the amount of tax dollars being saved. (I would think the revenue could also be designated for a specific need - teacher scholarships, student scholarships, ect.). The funds for new construction go toward the project.
  • A community committee evaluates the justification and then makes a recommendation to the governing board. Names are not accepted for living individuals. Deceased must have the approval from the immediate family and have had some type of major impact to the school/community.
  • Donors are usually recognized with a plaque.
  • There needs to be a procedure in place for removing the name if events happen (or information becomes available) that bring ill favor. No moneys would be returned.
  • The new name is usually hyphenated with the existing name.
So, how would it work. Let's take the Rock Hill School District Three Stadium Turf. It cost about $700,000 and has a life of 10 years - so naming rights would be at least $350,000 and would last for 10 years. Once $175,000 was donated, the district would have a ceremony and name the field (probably with a notice on the field itself), XXXX field at Rock Hill School District Three Stadium. The money would go into an endowment and the investment income would show up in the budget revenue.  Of course, if more than one group wanted the naming rights, the cost could go up - wouldn't that be a good problem to have.

Do I think any of our major facilities will be named? No. Do I think things under $25,000 will be named? Yes - It has already happened. Do we need a policy just in case - most definitely.

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