Surrounding School Districts Join Growing Trend of Adding Naming Rights to Facilities | News

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On December 5, 2021, Goshen High School Gymnasium officially became Interra Gym.

It became the second Interra-sponsored facility name in Elkhart County, as well as its name on the football field at Northridge High School.

The recent addition of naming rights to county high school athletic facilities is part of a trend across the country for school corporations looking for extra money. Even locally, Penn High School in Mishawaka has sponsorship for its football field, baseball diamond, and even its concession stand inside its gymnasium.

“Generally, that’s one of the things that we discussed five, 10 years ago: with the way things are going with the tax caps and things like that…(naming rights) will definitely be needed for people to keep their facilities up,” the elder said. said Middlebury Schools Superintendent Jane Allen.

THE MIDDLEBURY APPROACH

Allen was the superintendent of Middlebury when they first adopted its own naming rights policy in 2017. At the time, Allen noted there was resistance to adopting it due to fear that sponsoring a business does not lead to the owners of the children of that business being privileged. treatment when it came to playing sports. That’s why Allen and members of the Middlebury School Board at the time did their research before making a decision on adopting the policy.

“We talked to a whole bunch of people to figure out how to make it work, and that’s when we put the policy in place,” Allen said.

Two years later, the school district announced plans to build a new sports complex to house the football, baseball, and softball fields. All three were to get new artificial turf playing surfaces, as well as seating and changing room upgrades.

Even before the project officially started, Interra had inquired about the naming rights for the football ground, according to Allen. Interra offered $50,000 a year for five years, beginning when the facility opened in the fall of 2020. Middlebury accepted the offer, and the new football ground has since been called Interra Field.

Baseball and softball fields are also sponsored by D-Bat Elkhart. This naming rights policy is also for five years, although the terms of these agreements are unknown.

Allen, who retired as superintendent of Middlebury last spring, said Interra’s money went to maintaining the facility.

“What we wanted him to go to was help defray the costs of the extra custodial work to take care of the complex, and then also the equipment and its upkeep,” Allen said.

Middlebury Schools broke ground on their new facilities in the summer of 2019. In January 2020, Goshen Community Schools adopted its own naming rights policy, which stated that “the school board may make sponsorships and/or naming rights for district properties. , facilities and programs. The acceptance of such agreements must always be in accordance with the mission, objectives and objectives of GCS. All sponsorships that include naming rights must be approved by the school board. »

Less than two years later, the GHS gym is now called Interra Gym. Naming rights for the gymnasium are also under a five-year contract, beginning this school year. Financial terms were not disclosed, however, as GCS Superintendent Steve Hope said the Goshen Community Schools Foundation – a privately funded institution – had made the deal. The money from the deal will be paid out in equal installments over the next five years.

MORE THAN MIDDLEBURY AND GOSHEN

Two other Elkhart County schools are currently building new sports complexes, Fairfield and Bethany Christian, are also considering adding naming rights to their facilities. Fairfield Superintendent Randy Zimmerman said there have been discussions about sponsors for their new baseball/softball/tennis facilities, while Bethany Christian School Principal Tim Lehman has expressed concerns. similar feelings.

“At Bethany, we pay attention to local trends and are intrigued to see short-term sponsor partnerships happen,” Lehman said in an email. “Our Board is currently reviewing our naming policy with an eye to the future. With construction of the new Bethany Sports Complex set to be completed in 2022, we are exploring what sponsorship signs might look like at our new track and our new football pitch Our previous construction projects have often included visible recognition of those who helped make them possible and also sometimes honored beloved members of the community (such as former coaches Dan Bodiker and Jim Buller) When we open the Sports Complex in the fall, we’ll have a big reveal.

In Noble County, West Noble Superintendent Galen Mast said his school district has a policy in place allowing the sale of facility naming rights. Now only that money helps the school, but Mast thinks it’s good for the companies doing the sponsorship as well.

“That seems to be the growing trend,” Mast said. “Our policy allows for sponsorship and we are open to naming rights as a way to support our school community. a community and they will support the business in return.

Randy Miller, superintendent of Westview in LaGrange County, said the school entered into a six-year agreement this year with Farmers State Bank to display their signage around all Westview athletic facilities. Miller said the bank gave a large sum of money up front, with a smaller amount going to the school for the next five years.

The Westview gymnasium is not named after the Farmers State Bank. Instead, the agreement stipulates that the bank is the only financial institution that can display its advertising at the school.

“It helped our athletic department budget tremendously,” Miller said. “They had approached us and several other small schools in the area that do business in the Farmers State Bank area. So we’re not the only ones with this.

With seemingly every school in the state looking to generate additional revenue, seeking sponsorship from local businesses is a logical solution. Miller, like many local superintendents, sees it as a way for athletic departments to fully fund themselves in the future.

“State funding levels for children are always an issue, aren’t they? Miller said. “In the last (two years) the state has actually stepped in and done a really good thing for the schools – that hasn’t always been the case over the last decade. And so right now school funding might not be so bad. But if the state ever underfunds public education again, then we might need (naming rights money).

“We would like and prefer to have the Athletic Department fund everything themselves and not have it come out of Westview’s operating expenses. And so, that kind of thing helps an athletic department to fend for itself, which is good.

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