Sun Prairie To Consider Selling Naming
Rights To School Facilities
October 1, 2008
MADISON, Wis.—School districts across the state have
been feeling the financial pinch from state revenue caps
for several years.
Many districts go to referendum year after year just to
maintain programming, but in Sun Prairie, a committee is
thinking outside the box for new ways of funding, WISC-TV
The committee is proposing selling naming rights to
everything, from the bleachers to the ball fields.
The inspiration behind the idea is the new Sun Prairie
High School that is currently under construction.
“We’ve got a great opportunity,” said school board
member John Whalen. “We’ve got a brand new high school
being built with top notch facilities, a fieldhouse and
Whalen said the new school is full of naming
“It could be as large as a football stadium or
fieldhouse or it could be a plaque on a seat in the
auditorium or a tile or brick,” said Whalen.
“It’s another way to bring more money into the
district,” said deputy district administrator Phil Frei.
“I think it’s neat and innovative. A few schools in
Wisconsin have done it, not many – but I think you’ll
School districts in both Sheboygan and Fond du Lac sell
In Sheboygan, Acuity Insurance paid $650,000 for naming
rights to the school’s fieldhouse. The same company paid
$525,000 to name the fieldhouse in Fond du Lac.
“I think as long as it’s done right and the school board
thinks through certain issues that could come up, I
think it’s a good way to bring some money into the
district or pay back and give taxpayers a break,” said
“We want the taxpayers to know we’re not just looking to
dig into their pockets,” said Whalen. “We’re open to
other avenues of revenue.”
Under the Sun Prairie proposal, donors would have to
come up with a minimum of one-third the cost of whatever
they wanted to name, WISC-TV reported.
“For the school board to use as they wish,” said Frei.
“It might be to reduce taxes for the next year, might be
to upkeep the playground and put it in a fund so we’d
always make sure the playground is safe. I could be for
thousands of different uses.”
Besides the financial obligation, donors would also have
to meet other district criteria in order to be eligible.
“It would have to be in the best interest of education
and children,” said Whalen. “It cannot promote drugs and
alcohol that type of thing so it has to be in line with
our educational goals.”
Frei said that naming donors would have a contract with
the district that would spell out details, including
provisions for the name to be revoked if necessary.
Under the proposal, any naming donation of less than
$25,000 could be approved by district administration –
larger donations would need to be approved by the school
But Whalen said he is confidant that if a questionable
donor came forward the issue would automatically go to
the school board.
“I think that’s a good one for the school board,” said
Frei. “I think there are some businesses we wouldn’t
want to see endorsed on our school district buildings,
which is why prior approval from the school board is so
In Madison, the school board approved selling
advertisement space in schools several years ago, but
public relations director Ken Syke said the board has
never discussed selling naming rights to district
The proposal goes before the Sun Prairie School Board on
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