City to Take Bids on Ball Court, Dog Run Sponsorship

Picture this: The JP Morgan Chase off-leash area. The Starbucks Basketball Court at Henry Hudson Park.

These types of corporate sponsorship could soon become a reality as the city’s parks department this week solicits bids from companies angling to sponsor one of the city’s 631 basketball courts or its 55 dog runs.

The move is part of a city plan to generate $13 million annually in corporate sponsorship revenues through 2016, according to the Independent Budget Office. Though dog parks and basketball courts are a small portion of that revenue, they are expected to generate $1.5 million and $3.5 million, respectively. 

Geoffrey Croft, the president of advocacy group New York City Park Advocates, said he finds the initiative "offensive." He says visitors to the parks want to escape from commercialization, and he doubts that the parks will benefit.

"The parks commissioner and the rep for the parks department repeatedly went on the record saying that this is a benefit to parks and the money is going to parks," he said. "It's not. It’s going to the city's general fund."

The city said revenue from corporate sponsorships goes to the city's general fund for services such as sanitation, police, fire, schools and parks.

"This is a longstanding and well known policy," a spokesperson for the parks said.

The NYC Parks Corporate Partnership Program is not the first city program to sell naming rights — the bike-share program that was set to launch this year but now will launch in 2013 will feature bikes emblazoned with the Citigroup brand.

The MTA sells advertising space on MetroCards, and recently sold the naming rights to the Atlantic Avenue-Pacific Street subway station — or as it's known now, the Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center.