Kathleen Horan, Reporter, WNYC News
Kathleen Horan is a staff reporter for New York Public Radio, covering the neighborhood beat. She also reports 'Reset', an ongoing series documenting police-community relations in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
Move over Citi Field, here comes Acme Courts and Widget Dog Run. For the first time, New York City is selling naming rights to sponsor locations in its parks. The cash-strapped city is hoping to raise $5 million dollars a year by recruiting sponsors for its basketball courts and dog runs
Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said the plan is a creative way to find money and avoid the more dire prospect of layoffs. He also believes it's a great opportunity for companies.
"They can affiliate themselves with a really great product, which is New York City parks, and by the way, help make sure that the parks stay well served and well serviced and well visited," he explained.
But not everyone sees this as a good thing for city parks. Geoffrey Croft, with NYC Park Advocates, said this proposal raises some serious concerns. "This administration is increasing relying on these types revenue generators from parks while allocating a fraction of funds needed for the parks department," he said. "Ninety-one percent of revenues from city agency concessions all derived from parks."
He's concerned that the revenue generated from the sponsorship deals will not in fact go into the parks budget, but the city's general fund.
The city put out a request for proposal on Friday, allowing companies, foundations or individuals to bid on naming 631 basketball courts and 55 dog runs.
“By some estimates there are a million dogs in this city—and people have to get out with their dogs at least twice a day,” Benepe said. “The dog runs are very popular places…it’s a good market to affiliate your brand with.”
Depending on how this first foray into park sponsorship goes, the city says it may roll out other areas, such as tennis courts and swimming pools to be named as well, later this year.
Benepe said a full sponsorship of all of these assets could bring in as much as $13 million in revenue.
NYC & Company hired IMG a professional sports marketing company to determine elements of the benefits package, pricing, and to oversee the bidding process itself
The sponsors' signs would be designed in cooperation with the city. Companies have until the end of August 29th to respond.