The Way I See It

By Pat Bigold

Tuesday, January 20, 1998

Use creative corporate financing for new facilities

IT'S one heck of an idea and I hope someone will bring it to the islands.

With public school athletic departments desperate for cash these days throughout the nation, the good news is that corporations are now stepping in to do a lot more than just offer tournament sponsorships or buy uniforms and shoes.

They are actually building gyms and stadiums, and laying out new fields.

This is definitely new and I like this a lot better.

A school district in Colorado, which turned to the corporate world for relief because it did not have the money to replace or upgrade a field virtually destroyed by the pounding feet of 17 prep teams, is getting two new stadiums. Both will be named for U S West.

That is a very small price to pay for a stadium tax money could not buy. And who cares if it's named after U S West, McDonald's, Pepsi-Cola, Warner Brothers, Nike or Trojan?

Corporate sponsorship of stadiums at the pro level is nothing new, but now it's becoming a lucrative means of revenue for prep programs.

Why are the corporations willing to do this? Because it bloody well makes sense to them.

IT shows the community that the corporation cares for the kids, and there's one heck of a lot of buying power among students and their parents in a school district.

The company's name will be highly visible on a permanent structure in the community, and it will be referred to countless times in news stories, broadcasts, advertisements and by word of mouth. The duration of the sponsor's visibility would be for generations.

In the case of the Colorado district, U S West offered $2 million to have its name on both stadiums. The company wants a 4-by-16-foot sign at both sites and 2-by-3-foot signs in the gym of every high school.

I don't think that would be so difficult for our Department of Education to sanction.

Pepsi offered $2.1 million for the exclusive rights for cola products in the Colorado district's school system.

I think that, too, is reasonable.

That is, unless anybody else has a better idea of how to get this kind of money for our athletic programs.

The Maui Interscholastic League benefited by the Hula Bowl's investment in War Memorial Stadium (in Baldwin High's backyard). Why can't more schools in the islands could bask in the warmth of corporate benevolence?

ON Oahu, there is a shortage of stadiums deemed suitable for big games or state tournaments. That issue was raised to prominence last week in the controversy over the relocating of the state girls' soccer tournament from Aloha Stadium to Maui.

If a centrally located school like McKinley or Farrington had a proper facility, moving to another island would not be necessary.

And think of how marketable the McKinley and Farrington districts would be to a corporate sponsor. Lots of buying power there, and I can't see how having a stadium at either school named after a toothpaste, a hair spray, a soft drink or even a condom would make a spit of difference.

"It's not a bad idea," said Blair Irvin, assistant commissioner of the Ohio High School Athletic Association, in the Associated Press story that gave exposure to this concept. "It's getting to the point where if everybody else can do it, why not us?" he said.

And that's exactly what someone should be saying out here. Why not us?

I am in favor of some creative interaction with the corporate community to relieve Hawaii's athletic programs of the endless cycle of underfunding.

Pat Bigold has covered sports for daily newspapers
in Hawaii and Massachusetts since 1978.

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Info] [Letter to Editor] [Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1998 Honolulu Star-Bulletin