High school stadium naming rights deals score big bucks for local budgets

For school districts in states where high school football is a must-see attraction on Friday nights, stadium naming rights deals have emerged as an unlikely revenue stream.

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A growing number of high schools in Texas and Florida are selling stadium naming rights to local sponsors, often landing six-figure sums that can alleviate budget pressure, pay for equipment or support student programs. A trio of public schools in Palm Beach County, Florida, announced plans earlier this month to sell naming rights for up to $175,000 per year.

Negotiations are a complex matter, requiring cooperation from principals, school boards, superintendents even before sponsors are approached. But once achieved, the naming rights deals provide a financial boost to schools and strong local name recognition for the title sponsor, according to Brian Siatkowski, managing partner at Tebo & Associates, a Pennsylvania-based firm that brokers the agreements.

“In some of these towns, [the stadium] is the epicenter,” Siatkowski told FOX Business. “If you get a high school stadium and you put a couple of really big sponsors in there, it looks totally different. They stand out like crazy. The recall rate is insane.”

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Aside from the terms of the deal, sponsors often cover the costs of any promotional signage in the stadium and have their name announced during games. Other elements of the action, such as sponsorship of the halftime show or goalpost pads, are also often available for sale. Valuations are based on the size of the stadium and its location, with venues in high-trafficked areas costing more.

Concerns about pushing out other local sponsors or agreeing on financial terms are the biggest obstacles in brokering a deal. Critics sometimes raise questions about the morality of monetizing high school events.

Stadium naming rights deals are particularly lucrative in the state of Texas, which is home to a vibrant high school football team that produces some of the nation’s top prospects. In the Lone Star State, high school stadium naming rights have sold for up to $3 million over a 10-year period, according to a recent report from the Dallas Morning News.

“We definitely now are having more school districts than ever call us,” Siatkowski said.

While stadium sponsorships and naming rights deals are growing in popularity in some states, they have yet to become a national trend, according to Marc Ganis, president of Chicago-based consulting firm Sportscorp. Outside of Texas, where deals can be more lucrative, the agreements tend to be one-time payouts for naming rights over period of several years.

For most school districts, naming rights deals max out at $100,000 or less – if they are available at all.

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“Depending on how big the stadium is, how new it is, how big the football team is that participates in it, you might be looking in the low to mid six figures. We’re not talking about big amounts of money,” Ganis told FOX Business. “It’s usually to help build a stadium, renovate a stadium or build something like a scoreboard or locker room.”