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Aldermen propose parameters for naming rights

April 29, 2009

Wauwatosa Aldermen Don Birschel and Dennis McBride submitted a draft ordinance yesterday with the hopes that the Common Council would establish when it is appropriate to sell naming rights to city property.

Requests to commemorate contributions made by an individual or family at the local, state or national level would be preferred cases for naming rights, but an individual, business or nonprofit entity that wants to use its name would be considered if it met criteria, according to the proposed document. The following are some examples:

• The city property should not be used for advertising purposes, allow names that are derogatory to any race, gender, culture, religion; or have an affiliation with alcohol, tobacco or gambling or any business or person that has a bad reputation that would reflect poorly on the city.

• Political or religious groups should not be accepted for naming rights.

• An elected or appointed city official's name can be considered but only five years after he or she has left public office.

• Businesses or people with zoning or licensing matters pending with the city are not acceptable.

"The ordinance is intended to be flexible without giving up too much control over city property," McBride said in an e-mail to city officials and staff.

The ordinance authors suggest the Community Development Committee - on which they both sit - would receive applications and consider the dollar amount. If supported at the committee level, it would take a two-thirds vote of the council for approval.

However, the document recommends naming rights should last no longer than 15 years or the useful life of the property, whichever comes first.

The draft ordinance defines city property as buildings, grounds, parks and open spaces besides streets and spaces within them that are controlled by the city. It further states that naming rights payments should go toward upkeep or improvements to the specific property.

Among the items the two aldermen listed were bleacher seats, a suggestion Mayor Jill Didier responded to at last night's Budget and Finance Committee meeting where she pitched her plan to sell seats in the improved Hart Park stadium.

"The bleacher sales are significantly different to selling the naming rights to a field or a court," she said. I think his resolution has a lot of merit but not necessarily for this project," she said.

Didier told the committee in February that she wanted to pursue naming rights, but she has since focused on other methods of fundraising.

The ordinance authors are asking that the CDC take up the issue at its May 12 meeting.

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