May 15th, 2012

Next Stop, Walmart Crossing: the Hail Mary of T Naming Rights

By Tom Acitelli

The MBTA appears to be moving full speed ahead with plans to sell naming rights to various T stations. The authority has New York-based IMG Worldwide, best-known for repping sports and fashion stars, preparing a request for proposals. (It’s already conducted a focus group and will report the results to the MBTA board at its next meeting. We’ve tried to imagine the scenarios of the focus group: “Say, so the conductor announces you’re pulling into McDonald’s Station—does that make you hungry, not hungry, sad?").

So suppose if everything goes according to the tentative plans. What then? Nothing maybe. The MBTA tried in 2001 to sell the naming rights to the Back Bay, Downtown Crossing, South Station and Sullivan Square T stops, but nobody ponied up any dough. And it’s unlikely the sales of naming rights would make a big dent in the MBTA’s $161 million deficit.

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