NYC Parks department is taking corporate sponsorship and partnerships to the next level – dog runs and basketball courts. Cities have raised funds through corporate sponsorship and naming rights of sports stadiums, entertainment arenas, events, parades, subway/train stations, bus shelters and minor sporting facilities. Parks departments are always under pressure as the establishment and maintenance of parks can be a large monetary burden on cities with little income from rental and/or membership fees. Many cities across the world have abandoned, closed parks and also reduced park maintenance to a minimum to save funds in the long running economic crisis.
Park Departments are looking for ways to raise funds through corporate sponsorship with some cities planning to sell corporate sponsors the naming rights to city parks, dog runs, basketball courts, playgrounds, and other public spaces. Many world cities have raised funds through selling ad space and billboards in parks to corporations; National and State Parks departments have also raised funds through sponsorship but they draw the line at selling the naming rights. Recently, the city of Winnipeg revised their corporate sponsorship plan to exclude public spaces and parks. The original 2009 plan allowed for corporate sponsorship of city streets, skywalks, parks and other public spaces. Naming right of public facilities have already occurred in Chicago with the BP Bridge in Millennium Park and New York has Planters Grove Park (transformed underutilized urban space on Lower East Side).
How much is your local dog run or basketball court worth? Will it really work for advertisers or will is cause a backlash from residents? Could you really see yourself saying “I’m going down to ACME basketball court on 5th”? City residents pay taxes, rates and other usage charges to be able to use public space; have cities reached such a dire point of financial crisis that they need to sell the naming rights of public parks to raise funds for cities and parks departments? Parks and open space need to be free of commercialisation to allow people to enjoy public without the overlay of commercialisation.