“What price, naming rights to new pool?”

"What’s in a name?Plenty, when it comes to naming Bainbridge Island’s new swimming pool.The park district is considering selling the right to name its soon-to-be-constructed aquatic facility to any community-minded philanthropist willing to make up part, if not all, of its current $350,000 budget shortfall."

  • Thursday, January 20, 2000 5:00pm
  • News

“What’s in a name?Plenty, when it comes to naming Bainbridge Island’s new swimming pool.The park district is considering selling the right to name its soon-to-be-constructed aquatic facility to any community-minded philanthropist willing to make up part, if not all, of its current $350,000 budget shortfall.Some parks commissioners, however, prefer the idea of “special recognition” for high-level donors that falls short of granting outright naming rights.“There’s a difference between walking into a facility and seeing the words ‘Thank you to so-and-so’ in two-foot-high letters in the lobby, and seeing a sign in the same size outside that says ‘So-and-so Pool,’” said Dave Lewis, park district executive director.There’s also a difference, commissioners agreed, in whether those letters would bear the name of a corporate- or community-flavored sponsor.Commissioner Dave Shorett cited Seattle’s Safeco Field as an unsavory example.“Personally, I’m offended by the notion,” Shorrett said. “Every time I go to Safeco Field, I have to think about Safeco Insurance, not baseball. I don’t want to swim in Safeco Pool.”The issue came before commissioners at their regular meeting last Thursday, as they discussed a long-pending request for a donation of funds from the Rotary Club of Bainbridge Island and ways to kickstart an island-wide fund-raising campaign. How much would “naming rights” be worth to any donor, whether a service club or a corporate entity? The matter has taken on fresh urgency, as the commissioners admitted Thursday that they’ve had trouble finding someone from the community to spearhead the cash-culling campaign they agree should have gotten under way by now. The $350,000 sought is the approximate amount budgeted for pool design, construction and materials needed over and above the $4.5 million in municipal bonds authorized by island taxpayers last February.The facility’s design was completed last fall, and the project is now poking its way through the city permitting process.District officials hope to break ground for the building, to be connected to the existing Ray Williamson Pool, by spring, and to complete work in 2001.At the meeting, the commissioners asked Lewis to explore the idea of hiring a professional fund-raiser – someone who would organize the campaign and give it focus in exchange for a small percentage of the returns.Such a campaign would not have to be as intensive as past school or library campaigns, however, if community members are given an opportunity to shop for aquatic immortality by purchasing the facility’s name.“The people are paying the lion’s share for this,” said commissioner Chris Llewellyn. “I don’t have any problem with people buying anything from a tile to a sauna to a slide.“I think it’s something the community needs to decide.””

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