Council allows naming rights of athletic fieldsSaturday, February 23, 2013 by: Jamie LyleNorth Bay City Council took steps during their regular meeting to introduce a new program in the form of granting naming rights to the city’s sports fields.
The Steve Omischl Sports Complex was the subject of their current plans, with five fields up for naming if the price is right for any business wanting to advertise this way.
Council passed the resolution with only two of the councillors objecting to the concept, citing concerns that it could cheapen the look, feel and culture of sport and its facilities that often contain enough advertising, creating an eyesore.
Hence, council was adamant that the proposal was passed as a means to keep tax rates low for citizens while still allowing the city to grow its sport tourist facilities.
On the plus side, the program could raise much needed funds to enhance the sports tourism plan for a city that is trying to encourage more people to use the high grade facilities.
However, the issue of naming rights could see many issues unforeseen as council, hoping to score big name advertisers and global corporations, may end offending local competitors and small business operators.
Many sports teams already use this method to help fund uniforms and equipment and funding may become harder to find for the small family groups merely trying to participate in local sport.
It could be also noted that, in the last few years, the city has engaged in naming local bridges and other municipal areas such as the Kate Pace Way after local sports celebrities and fallen police officers, a more historic and cultural approach.
Mayor Al McDonald spoke to the fact he doesn’t think naming rights will lessen the integrity of sport here in the city.
“You go into any large sport’s facility these days and they all have naming rights because, let’s face it, private corporations need the revenue as well so I don’t think we can ignore that,” say McDonald.
McDonald also pointed out that, overall, the concept could take on a more dynamic function by perhaps combining both the sport hero and the corporate sponsor onto the image of the field.
“There’s an opportunity to partner both ways,” says McDonald.
Guessing at the monetary figures that the fields could generate, McDonalds says that the city could make anywhere from $5,000-$10,000 in revenue annually times the five fields, making it a win situation.
“If we can generate between $10,000-$50,000 a year where you just name five fields, it’s a wonderful opportunity for us to try to keep the tax levy as low as we can for our residents,” says McDonald.
Doubters may see this as a slippery slope to where the city will begin naming streets for a price and perhaps go beyond, remaining major parks, schools, city buildings and even land marks like the Waterfront and creating a city tagged with corporate ownership and boundaries.