Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Market Street Sports Group

There’s Money in Naming Rights for School District Athletic Fields, Concession Stands, Auditoriums, etc. – T/E Explores the Possibilities

I attended last night’s School Board meeting, primarily for the presentation from Market Street Sports Group, a marketing advertising company from Lancaster County specializing in event sponsorships and ‘naming rights’ opportunities. Two Market Street representatives, Frank Hoke and Tracey Brubaker, explained that they have worked with various school districts using Hempfield School District in Lancaster County as an example and one of their clients. Through corporate sponsorships and naming rights on fields, concession stands, etc. the company raises additional funds for their clients.

The Market Street presentation answered some of the advertising and marketing questions. The school board would retain final approval on all corporate partners, proposals and contracts. Certain types of advertising is prohibited including advertising of lotteries, promotion of the sale or use of alcohol or tobacco products plus any service, product or point of view that is not acceptable to the school board. The Market Street Sports Group process includes creating an inventory of available resources for naming rights. Signage strategically placed in certain approved areas of schools, athletic fields, gyms, concession stands, auditoriums, or cafeterias are some possible naming locations.

Naming rights and signage can be lucrative to school districts – representatives cited that Hempfield School District earns $100-130K per year with various naming opportunities. A specific example was a banner over the concession stand on one of the school fields earns $30K for a 3-year contract, $10K per year. The cost of doing business with Market Street Sports Group does come with a price – a commission rate of 30%. As explained, the first 10% goes to the sales rep at Market Street (for selling the sponsorships), the next 10% to the local TESD representative and the final 10% to overhead costs (billing sponsors on monthly basis, credit card fees, etc.) The process involves more than just hanging a banner on a field – the sponsors require value for their marketing dollars as well as the school districts gaining additional funding. Through ‘active engagement’, the sponsors reach customers in a specific demographic area through public address announcements, website advertising, promotions and giveaways at sporting events, etc.

Hoke, who serves as chief financial officer of Market Street, was asked if the 30% commission rate was negotiable and his response was vague and not positive. An audience member who quickly Googled the Hempfield School District (which was used as an example by Market Street) suggested that the average income level in Hempfield was probably half of the average income level in T/E. She suggested that the T/E community had the capacity for making more money for Market Street (with no greater effort) so perhaps that should be considered when looking at the commission rate. Although the representatives were polite, I am not certain that the 30% would be negotiable.

School directors questioned how Market Street would find (and hire) a local representative in the TESD. Working with the school district and administration, the company would look for a community person interested in part-time work and extra money – possibly a TESD teacher. It was important the person be a local hire, someone who understood the area as Market Street Sports Group is from Lancaster County.

School board member Anne Crowley questioned the company representatives on how they handle competing local companies that might want to participate in naming opportunities, such as three dry cleaners. Market Street sales rep Tracey Brubaker offered that this competing situation had never occurred and if it did would be solved ‘creatively’. Brubaker’s response was not satisfactory; her suggestion that this situation had never occurred seemed unlikely. Well, I think I understand why – after a bit of research, I determined that Brubaker only joined Market Street Sports Group last month. In her 5 weeks with the company, my guess is that the situation of competing advertisers has not occurred but I believe does require further consideration.

The presentation from Market Street Sports Group was interesting. However, I think it was obvious to the school board and members of the audience that this topic will require further study and discussion.

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