Worthington News

Temporary guidelines

City to spend year studying sponsorships at rec events

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Could the city's summer music series become known as the Kroger Concerts on the Green?

Could parks and recreation league softball shirts be printed with logos and advertisements?

What about scoreboards at the Worthington Community Center? If a company were to pay $3,000 for a new one, would spectators forever be forced to see its ad next to the score?

Worthington City Council will watch such issues closely over the next year as temporary sponsorship guidelines go into effect.

Through Nov. 1, 2014, companies will be permitted to purchase sponsorship of parks and recreation activities, events, facilities, programs and publications. At that point, the guidelines will return for council's review.

In exchange for financial support that will allow parks programs to expand or improve, a company may sponsor a single event, a series of programs or events, a league or a team, or purchase an ad in newsletters and activity guides.

Prices range from $100 for a small ad to $15,000 to sponsor the 12 Concerts on the Green.

Sponsors will have their names mentioned in brochures, on Facebook, on the city's website, on fliers or on signs.

Sponsors also might receive some recognition on digital display screens at the Worthington Community Center, though no company would be permitted to purchase an ad that would flash before visitors. That was one change in the proposed guidelines that council approved April 15.

Council compromised on the proposal to allow a company to advertise on scoreboards in exchange for purchasing a scoreboard. If such a purchase is to be made before November 2014, council must first approve it. How such an issue would be handled after that date remains be decided when council reviews the guidelines.

Other decisions about who may advertise will be made by the city manager, though the guidelines outlaw sponsorships involving alcohol, tobacco, political or religious causes, gambling, profanity and obscenity, drugs, and firearms.

Even with those and other restrictions, council member Bob Chosy does not want to see the parks department sell sponsorship rights. It is a matter of principle, he said. "This is a city department that is supposed to be paid for by the city and run by the city," he said.

Board member Bonnie Michael said she sees it differently. Other communities across the country are benefiting from private sponsorships, and local companies want to be able to support the activities of the Worthington Parks and Recreation Department, she said.

"Corporations don't give money to help out the city," Chosy said. "They give money to advertise themselves."

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