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Four years ago, Everglades High School didn't have a stadium. Today, it has a state-of-the-art facility with seating for 3,750. One factor made it possible to build this great facility: For $500,000, just over half of the total cost, the school sold the stadium's naming rights to Eastern Financial Florida Credit Union.
by Fred Azrak
Fred Azrak is the Athletic Director at Everglades High School in Miramar, Fla. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For us, selling the naming rights was a natural outgrowth of developing relationships with businesses in our area and being good partners with them in smaller ventures. I first met the management team at Eastern Financial in 2003, when I was visiting local companies to sell advertising on a rotating scorer's table we use at our basketball games. I gave my pitch to the bank's director of marketing and vice president, who agreed to place an ad.
Six months after that meeting, I organized a breakfast to introduce faculty members from Everglades to all of our business partners. As everyone was introduced, the Vice President of Eastern Financial stood up and said that if there was anything else we needed, we should let him know.
So I told him we needed a stadium. He didn't even blink, but simply asked me some questions and told me I'd know in two weeks whether the credit union would put up the funding.
My next step was to communicate with our school board about the plan. Then our board representative and I met with the mayor of Miramar and Eastern Financial's vice president, who made the formal offer of $500,000 in exchange for 30 years of naming rights. The school board and the City of Miramar approved the deal and agreed to finance the additional $450,000 needed to complete the project.
During the process of selling naming rights to our stadium, and also during the construction phase, one of my biggest jobs was facilitating communication. The school board, the city, and Eastern Financial all had to be happy working together. It was a crash course in politics, making sure nobody's toes were being stepped on.
Not everyone in the community immediately agreed with our decision to sell naming rights, but the success of our stadium has helped silence those critics. During the past two years, we've been able to rent the facility out for substantial sums, including to the NFL for rehearsals of this year's Super Bowl half-time show. Local businesses loved the fact that there were 900 to 1,500 people in the stadium the week before the Super Bowl, and the community is now 100 percent behind us.
Since news stories about our stadium hit the press, I have received calls from other athletic directors who want to know how to sell naming rights to their facilities. The answer is simple: Go out and ask.
Part of this article appeared in the April/May 2007 issue of Athletic Management, Fundraising For Sports' sister publication.