SYRACUSE, NY – New York school districts could rake in millions of dollars without raising taxes if the state lifted a prohibition against selling advertising and naming rights on school properties, according to a report.
Quadrant Biosciences Inc. of Syracuse is paying $10,000 a year for three years to get its product’s name on a Pittsburgh area public high school’s outdoor stadium, according to the report by the Empire Center, an Albany think tank. The stadium will carry the name “ClearEdge,” a Quadrant subsidiary that sells a diagnostic testing kit for brain injuries.
The 3,000-student Gloucester, Massachusetts school district sold naming rights to outdoor athletic facilities for $500,000 over ten years to New Balance, the athletic shoe company.
In Texas, a pediatric hospital will pay $2.5 million over 10 years for athletic facility naming rights at a 7,000-student district outside Dallas.
In addition to naming rights on school sports facilities, at least 14 states allow districts to plaster small advertising signs on school buses.
But those kinds of deals are not allowed in New York. That’s because selling any form of commercial advertising on school property in New York is restricted by policies and legal guidance from the state Attorney General, Board of Regents and Education Department, according to the report written by Peter Murphy, Empire’s senior fellow for education policy.
The report recommends the state pass a law allowing districts to sell commercial advertising, event sponsorships and naming rights deals.
The extra revenue “ … would be welcomed in the most hard-pressed districts with stagnant or even shrinking local tax bases,” the report says.
A section of New York’s constitution says, “No county, city, town, village or school district shall give or loan any money or property to or in aid of any individual, or private corporation or association, or private undertaking…” The report says this section has been interpreted to prohibit districts from selling advertising unless the state Legislature grants permission.
Sponsorships with school districts and municipalities in New York are largely absent because they have not been explicitly authorized by the state Legislature.
The report refers to a 2012 audit by the Onondaga County comptroller that said even as the county was collecting $150,000 per year for sponsorships featuring naming rights and corporate branding on buildings in county-run parks, “it is technically, per our Law Department, impermissible to sell naming rights.”
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