January 8th, 2009
Miami-Dade Transit Selling Metromover Station Naming Rights
By Risa Polansky
Businesses looking for more name recognition can get in the loop in downtown Miami. The Metromover loop, that is.
Miami-Dade Transit plans to sell naming rights to its downtown Metromover stations in what the department’s marketing chief calls a “somewhat unique” move to expand its sales program and attempt to add revenue to the financially struggling agency.
Each station may come at a different price, some more expensive than others.
A July report by Philadelphia-based Front Row Marketing Services suggests the county could charge rates ranging from $2,500 a year for Third Street Station to $48,000 a year for the stop at Bayfront Park.
The county hired the company in March to study the market and explore selling naming rights to stations or the whole downtown mover system.
Front Row has sold the rights to sports venues in the US and Canada, and even to Tampa’s streetcar system.
“What they did was to assess the value of each of the Metromover stations based on the amount of traffic around it,” said Michael De Cossio, Miami-Dade Transit marketing chief.
The Bayfront Park station sees a large number of riders and is “highly visible,” he said. “And then there are others in the Brickell area that are adjacent to businesses and restaurants.”
The Omni stop is another high-profile spot — Front Row suggested the county could ask as much as $42,500 a year — but county commissioners voted last year to dedicate the station in retired banker Adrienne Arsht’s name in honor of her $30 million donation to the nearby performing arts center.
Still, other hot spots are available. Front Row’s report suggests the county could ask as much as $37,000 a year for naming rights to the Government Center stop and $32,000 for Eighth Street in Brickell.
The company suggests the county sell naming rights packages.
For the whole Metromover system, two interior signs in each car, logos on the outside of the vehicles, recognition on the county’s transit Web site and other perks.
Or, at each station, naming rights and signage on the stairs, turnstiles and platforms.
No prices are officially set. Sponsorship deals will require county commission approval.
Front Row is seeking businesses local and national to get the initiative rolling, Mr. De Cossio said.
“This is such a new approach that it’s hard to forecast what the ultimate income potential is,” he said. “We will know once we get the first contract.”
The county hired Front Row through March of next year for $50,000. Mr. De Cossio said he hopes the program yields at least $100,000 a year in new revenue.
It’s not much considering the department faces a multi-billion funding gap over 30 years in trying to maintain current services and build new.
But “every little bit helps,” he said.
Tampa Electric Co. is paying $1 million over 10 years for naming rights to Tampa’s streetcar system, the Front Row report says, and Nextel Communications $50 million over 12 years to sponsor a train and the Convention Center Station of the Las Vegas Monorail System.
Miami-Dade Transit for years has sold advertising on buses and inside rail stations, generating from $3 million to nearly $4 million annually, Mr. De Cossio said.
“With the downturn in the economy we have lost a little bit of revenue there, but we still make a significant amount of revenue.”
County commissioners voted last year to amend a contract with CBS Outdoor Group to guarantee the company pay from the ad program at least $2 million annually — up from the contract’s original $1 million guarantee — or 60% of the company’s net billing per year, whichever is greater.
The bus and rail ads are “part of my program to generate revenues,” Mr. De Cossio said.
The program includes also selling advertising on bus benches and shelters as well as selling rail passes to corporations in bulk.
“All of that adds up to a sales program of transit products and services,” Mr. De Cossio said. “The naming rights approach is somewhat uniqueÖ we suspect we are going to be able to add advertising revenue.”