April 14th, 2014
Oakland considers naming-rights deals for parks
By Will Kane
San Francisco Chronicle
Google Park in Oakland? It could happen. Oakland’s Parks and Recreation Department is considering a policy that would allow corporations and wealthy donors to buy the right to name city-owned public parks, gardens and recreation centers if they pay enough to spruce up and maintain the sites.
Oakland’s 2,500 acres of parkland, 25 recreation centers, 59 tennis courts, 53 athletic fields and five swimming pools need about $112 million in capital improvements, and there isn’t enough money in the city’s budget to fund basic maintenance, let alone large-scale fixes.
“We have to build that money up somewhere,” said Dana Riley, a spokeswoman for the parks department. “So how do you get that money? You aren’t going to be able to charge people higher use fees.” The answer, Riley said, is to lure businesses and philanthropists into paying to renovate and maintain Oakland’s parks by letting them take public credit for their support. Neither Google nor any other company has signed up - the city’s idea for the program is still developing.