Schools Seek Ads for Sports
The North Andover High School baseball field could soon
be named for a bank and the track field for a local
insurance company, after the School Committee agreed to
allow corporate advertising at student sporting events
in an effort to close a budget gap.
The committee voted to change its policy and accept
corporate advertising - joining a handful of other area
school districts that have sought or are considering
seeking such help from businesses - after it got news of
a $39,000 deficit in the school athletics program. The
shortfall has forced officials to increase athletic fees
- $50 to $175 for students who play a second sport, and
$600 to $775 for the family cap. The base fee was kept
Committee member Chris Nobile said those increases may
not be implemented if the district can raise the
necessary funds through advertising to close the gap.
Under the plan, the district could sell advertising
signs at sporting events and offer naming rights to the
high school’s baseball and track fields.
It’s too early to know whose names the fields will
carry, but officials say it’s possible local
institutions, such as a bank or an insurance agency,
would be interested in buying naming rights as a way to
support the local programs.
“This will be a great way for local businesses to get
more involved and for us to say ‘thank you’ to the
companies who support us,” said Nobile. “We don’t want
our students to be like NASCAR with billboards on
uniforms, but we do want to give local businesses an
opportunity to show their support.”
Last year, around 13,000 people attended North Andover
sporting events, Nobile said. That number alone should
convince businesses that any advertisement at sporting
events will get good exposure, he said.
He added that if North Andover is really successful at
attracting advertising dollars, the district may lower
fees and offer more sports.
Advertising at high school sporting events is nothing
new in states such as Texas, Florida, and Tennessee. For
years, scoreboards, baseball fences, even stadiums there
have had the names of local and national businesses in
And years ago, that was also the case in Massachusetts,
though in a more limited way, said Paul Wetzel,
spokesman for the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic
Association. “Frankly, almost every scoreboard was made
by Coke,” before advertising was largely banned, Wetzel
said. “But there’s been a movement to do more of late,
like offering signs.”
Wetzel said the concept is really no different from
getting local businesses to support a local boosters
club or the advertisements in a high school yearbook. He
said that although he has heard of more school districts
statewide looking into selling advertising, his
association doesn’t keep records on them.
Haverhill High School has sold advertising on signs and
on fences around the school stadium for the past four
years, using the money to maintain stadium facilities.
School officials, though, say advertising dollars have
decreased in recent years.
Littleton School Committee member Paul J. Avella said
the topic has been brought up in Littleton but no
proposal has been formally discussed. “I think I would
lean toward supporting something like this,” said
Avella. “We could look at it on a deal-by-deal basis.”
Robert F. Vogler, a Methuen School Committee member,
said his district has not considered inviting
corporations to sponsor student sporting events, and if
the proposal came up, he’d probably oppose it.
“I don’t believe in the commercialization of athletic
facilities,” Vogler said. “I just wouldn’t be in favor
of naming a field after a bank.”
However, Vogler said he would consider a proposal to
erect signs that advertise local business at sporting
events, as long as the signs are part of a yearly
contract that brings in revenue each year.
The Methuen Public Schools do not charge any athletic
Robert Emmett Skerry, a Medford School Committee member,
cautioned districts about getting their hopes too high
in trying to generate more revenue from advertising
dollars, especially in the current economic climate.
Medford has not looked at selling advertising at
sporting events, but the district recently tried selling
advertisements on school buses.
“We were led to believe it would generate $100,000,”
said Skerry. “It didn’t even come anywhere near that.
There’s just no money out there.”
Skerry said Medford sports is mainly helped by funds
raised through Mayor Michael J. McGlynn’s annual golf
In North Andover, Nobile said school officials will aim
to have “tasteful” and age-appropriate advertisements.
“We’re not looking for something that says, ‘Come by and
get five bucks off a haircut,’ “ he said. “We want
something that will say you support your town.”
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