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Naples Daily News (Florida)
The Lee County School District's nearly year-long high school football stadium naming rights initiative made its biggest score yet, selling the rights to the crown jewel of its portfolio.
The stadium at the brand new Bonita Springs High School will be known for the next five years as Lee Health Stadium in an advertising deal worth nearly $292,000. The district confirmed to The News-Press the blockbuster advertising deal with the largest healthcare system in Southwest Florida.
"Lee Health has been a long supporter of The School District of Lee County and we are thrilled to partner with them to name the stadium at the new Bonita Springs High School," Superintendent Greg Adkins said. "This affiliation will directly benefit our students and employees and we could not ask for a better ally."
The district also confirmed FAST AC, a locally owned air conditioning company in Estero, purchased the rights to the football field at Estero High in a deal worth $32,688 over three years. The home of the Wildcats will now be named FAST AC Field at Jeff Sommer Stadium, the latter part memorializing the late Estero athletic director and cross country coach.
"We are doing something that most districts do not do, raise money to benefit our students and to help them reach their highest personal potentials," Adkins said. "Partnerships like this are vital to the success of our students and to our community, and we are grateful that FAST AC is part of this growing group of supporters."
FAST AC owner Matt Foster, a 20-year Estero resident, took pride in his company's investment. "I believe that, as a successful business owner in the area, it is important to give back to local causes and social issues," Foster said. "Our children are our future and represent a beacon of hope to all of us. Each of us need to find as many ways as possible to support them. Estero High School has done a fabulous job at developing its youth and I am proud to be a part of their continued efforts."
Bonita Springs and Estero are the second and third stadiums in Lee County to have their naming rights sold. North Law Firm Stadium at Dunbar High was announced late last year in an agreement that brings in $114,480 per year over five years.
Dealing with growing enrollment each year and a budget that struggles to keep pace, the district was forced to think outside the box in its search for new revenue streams. The cash-strapped district's latest endeavor is taking a page out of the playbook of the wildly successful business models of professional and college sports.
By rolling out the sale of naming rights to stadiums, gymnasiums and theaters the district finds itself near the ground floor of what could become a growing trend around the country.
The money generated will go toward closing a nearly $478 million gap in capital dollars which pays for new construction, maintenance, technology, equipment and safety and security initiatives.
The district signed a contract in September with Baltimore-based Tebo and Associates to sell the naming rights to 12 football fields and stadiums. In addition, naming rights for nine gyms and 12 auditoriums that are on sale make up what Tebo managing partner Brian Siatkowski calls "the largest naming rights initiative in the nation for public schools."
After Tebo, which is on retainer for $2,000 a month, earns 20 percent of the net sales, 60 percent of the naming rights fee will remain at Bonita Springs and Estero while the remaining 40 percent will be available for countywide use by the school district. All of the money is slated for capital improvement projects including safety and security upgrades and technology enhancements.
Advertising prices are based on the amount of traffic passing by the stadiums and foot traffic at games, making Bonita Springs the most attractive of all the stadiums due to its visibility from I-75 and Imperial Parkway.
Lee Health and FAST AC will have signs at the main entrance of the venues, one inside the stadiums visible on the visitor's bleachers, two on-field painted stencils, one sign on the outer wall of each field house, a welcome announcement at every event and four 30-second public address announcements during all events. The firm also will receive other exposure online and in the school's football and other sports programs.
Signage at North Law Firm Stadium is expected to go up on Tuesday while district spokeswoman Lauren Stillwell said Estero and Bonita Springs hope to have their signage up before the beginning of the upcoming football season, which begins Aug. 17 with preseason kickoff classics.
Bonita Springs will begin its inaugural junior varsity season this fall.
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