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May 16, 2004

Naming Rights: A Growing Revenue Source

FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS comes a story of the state-of-the-art in university fund-raising via naming rights.

Whether it is a budget crisis due to diminished state funding or a need to keep competitive in the arms race, many schools are going where they never have before to secure new revenue streams.

One of the more popular tactics has been naming rights campaigns. While the concept of naming facilities for donors is nothing new, some schools have been especially aggressive and creative in developing comprehensive naming rights programs to accommodate donor pocketbooks of any size.

The University of Memphis is a good example of what could well be the future on many campuses across the land. Memphis AD R.C. Johnson sounds as savvy as any major league executive as he describes slick marketing efforts to target likely donors with a palette of customized rights products.

Memphis offers naming rights opportunities totaling almost $10 million, including coaches’ offices, players’ lounges, meeting rooms, locker rooms, weight rooms and practice fields and courts.

Memphis fund raisers are not shy about their naming rights campaign. “Hey, we’ll sell the floor and the walls.” says a top fundraiser for Tiger athletics.

Aside from enhancing bonds with team boosters, naming rights are a revenue generator requiring relatively little investment by the university. After all, the facilities are already there.

Another large part of the appeal with naming rights is the wide range of cost packages. Donors can get involved for just a few thousand dollars—for a brass plaque on a locker door. Or, Memphis has an atrium available for a cool million dollars.

(this 268 word excerpt—with attendant commentary—was distilled from a 1048 word article in the May, 2004 Athletic Business magazine)