February 23rd, 2006

Suffolk May Sell Naming Rights

By Emi Endo

Suffolk County [NY], already home to Citibank Park, is looking to bolster revenue by selling naming rights to its golf courses, memorials, parks and buildings.

"There might be private sponsors who want to spend big bucks on getting their name advertised," said County Executive Steve Levy, who has created a committee of five administration officials and a private citizen to seek sponsors and start a bidding process.

But the prospect of naming any of the county health centers after, say, a tobacco company, is unlikely. The committee is ordered to assure the name will "be displayed in good taste for the particular nature of the property."

The Long Island Ducks minor-league baseball team has played at a county-built ballpark in Central Islip since 2000. While some fans call it "Duck Stadium," Citibank pays $230,001 a year for the name, as EAB did before it was bought by Citigroup in 2001.

Levy aides said the naming rights idea was part of a wider effort, announced last month, to tap new income sources through partnerships with the private sector.

In Nassau, officials said naming rights to the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum would be addressed in talks with firms competing to redevelop the site. That could make it the first county-owned property to sport a corporate name. At state-run Jones Beach, concerts are held at the Tommy Hilfiger at Jones Beach Theater, and the Saturn Corp. paid for a playground it calls "Saturn Kid’s Kingdom."

Some New York City park facilities bear sponsors’ names, such as the Carl Icahn track-and-field stadium on Randall’s Island and minor-league ballparks named for Keyspan and for Richmond County Savings Bank.

Suffolk officials said selling the naming rights to its ballpark was difficult; nobody applied the first two times bids were advertised. A consultant hired to find interested bidders continues to get 15 percent of the fee.

Legis. Joseph Caracappa (R-Selden) warned of a tough sell this time, too. "It’s not as easy as it looks," he said. "You need high visibility with a massive audience moving in and out ... Putting your name on a social services building is just not going to work."


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