Worthington News

Sponsorship guidelines

City council not sold on concept of sponsors

Official to consider input, return with adjusted proposal

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Worthington City Council continues to struggle with the idea of allowing businesses to sponsor city programs and events, or to advertise in activity guides or on team T-shirts.

With individual council members objecting to all or part of the proposed sponsorship guidelines presented at the council meeting on Monday, Feb. 11, Council President Lou Goorey asked that approval be delayed until all of the concerns could be addressed.

This was the second presentation of the proposal, which was tabled last June after council raised several objections, especially to the idea of selling naming rights for facilities or programs provided by the parks and recreation department.

The naming rights proposal was removed, and several other tweaks made to the proposal, but council was still not ready to give the go-ahead to Parks and Recreation Director Darren Hurley.

The sponsorship guidelines spell out what programs and services could be sponsored by businesses, what the cost would be to the businesses, and how the businesses would be recognized for their support.

For example, a business could sponsor the Concerts on the Green series for $15,000, or sponsor one of the 12 concerts for $1,500.

For that price, the sponsor would receive name recognition in the activity brochure, on Facebook, on the city website, on fliers, and on sponsor boards set up at the concerts.

Similar recognition would be available to sponsors of community center family nights and other special events and programs; the Independence Day fireworks display; leagues, which would include logos on T-shirts; and Griswold Center Friday soup sessions, leagues, and performance groups.

Ads would be sold for the Community Center's activity guides, newsletters and apparel.

Sponsors would also provide magazine subscriptions, which is one of the sponsorships already in place. In exchange for providing magazines, racks and binders, the company has its name and logo on the front cover.

Other sponsorship opportunities are dog waste dispensers, digital display screen advertising, signs on city buses, and the purchase of backstops and scoreboards.

Council member Bob Chosy continues to be the leading voice objecting to the sponsorship proposal.

"We're a city," he said. "Why do we have to get extra money?"

He was very critical of the idea of businesses advertising on digital display screens at the Community Center, saying it would be annoying.

Hurley said it is his goal to enhance services and to continue to offer programs without increasing the price to participants. Proceeds would support the programs or services for which they are specified, not go into the city's general fund.

Businesses approach the city with sponsorship offers, Hurley said. Some sponsorships have already been sold, but the guidelines would make clear the expectations on both sides.

Council member Bonnie Michael said the concept of sponsorships has been around since the 1980s, and Worthington is behind the times. Not only do sponsors provide money to enhance programs and keep down costs for residents, but they also build relationships with community businesses, she said.

The proposal before council is moderate compared to the programs in other communities, she said.

"I think sponsorships are a great thing," Michael said.

Hurley said he will consider the concerns of each council member, make further adjustments to the proposal, and return for reconsideration at a future meeting.

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