GREENSBORO, NC - On any given Friday night, you can find parents and spectators in the stands of high school football stadiums across the country. For Greensboro entrepreneur, Evan Rogers, it is the social media activity before, during and after the game that excites him most. His company recently launched NameRights.com, a sports marketing platform that helps high school athletic programs showcase their naming rights opportunities to potential sponsors. Naming rights are a type of arrangement where a company becomes part of the name of an event or facility by financially supporting another organization. Prominent local examples include the Wyndham Hotel chain's role as title sponsor of the Wyndham Open and BB&T's naming rights sponsorship of multiple college and pro sports venues in the Triad.
Naming rights have long been thought of as a big business phenomenon but have trickled down to high schools and municipal venues in recent years. Just days ago, Teachers Credit Union announced a 10 year, $300,000 naming rights agreement with South Bend, Indiana's school district. Similar headlines appear daily in newspapers across the country as companies both large and small clamor for an opportunity to build awareness and promote goodwill in their communities. Hundreds of school systems nationwide have been challenged to find new revenue amid budget cuts and the practice of selling naming rights has become a key piece of the funding puzzle.
NameRights.com hopes to capitalize on this trend while showcasing the ways that naming rights differ from other forms of local outreach. Whereas radio ads are fleeting and only the most provocative billboards are covered by the press, naming rights sponsorships last for years and appear in every corner of the local media landscape. On the Internet, every like, share or post extends the sponsor's name in ways that no television commercial can replicate. Even ticketing websites and driving direction apps become part of a brand's echo chamber when searches are made online.
The idea for a naming rights sponsorship marketplace could not have come from a more unlikely place. While on a walk with his son at their school's newly renovated track, Evan was asked "Dad...what should we call the new field?" Months later, he launched NameRights.com as an online hub for local sponsorships. According to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), revenue from sports sponsorships is projected to reach $18.3 billion by 2019. Only time will tell whether the platform can become a destination for companies seeking naming rights at the local level. If it does, school districts and athletic programs will have reaped the benefits of a simple conversation between an engaged father and his school aged son.