By Katie Dahlstrom
Herald Staff Writer
A sponsorship and marketing program proposed by Clinton Recreation Director Gregg Obren received mixed reviews from Clinton City Council members Tuesday night over concerns that an abundance of signs would negatively affect the aesthetics of city parks.
The program would allow for sponsorship or advertising to be displayed on various areas of the city facilities and sport fields as well as in the city’s print materials. Council member John Rowland, at-large, was not thrilled by the proposed program’s potential impact.
“You’re talking about turning the parks into billboards,” Rowland said.
The proposed program cited opportunities for sponsorship and advertising along the scoreboards, fences, team benches, concession stands, bleacher backs and goals of the softball and soccer fields, walls of the Ericksen Community Center gym, fences and concession stand at Riverview Pool and panels, sound towers and walls of the bandshell.
Other opportunities included special events, youth sports programs, the city newsletter, game schedules and target fliers.
Obren appreciated Rowland’s concern as the program was vetted by the entire council for the first time.
“Say if we use the softball fences, do we want 40 on each outfield fence or should we limit it to 20 or limit it to 10? That’s a great point of view. Do we want to put it on every fence around? I don’t think so, but we want to make sure if somebody comes up and says ‘Hey I’d like to put it here,’ we want to make sure that yes you can. Our policy says you can,” Obren said.
Councilwoman Jennifer Graf, at-large, agreed that the program should be pared down in order to maintain the quality of the city parks. She also recognized the work that Obren had done to create the program, which is projected to bring in $27,000 next fiscal year.
“I don’t think any one of us want to drive up to Eagle Point and see signage on the fencing...even at the riverfront. We want to keep that as pristine as possible. If you started out piece meal...without going with such great guns, then maybe we could see how that works and move up the scale a little bit,” Graf said. “You’re telling us how far we can reach, but maybe we don’t want to reach that far.”
The council felt comfortable allowing signage on scoreboards, fences, concession stands at Emma Young Park and Jurgensen Park.
They would also allow signs on the concession stand of Riverview Pool and on the panels below the stage and sound towers of the bandshell. Sponsorships for youth and adult sports, advertising in the city’s print materials would also be allowed as would equipment sponsors.
The proposed program would not allow for the naming of a facility or park through the recreation department. Mayor Mark Vulich suggested the language be changed so if someone wanted to name a facility, they could ask the council for permission.
“I would rather have someone sponsor or name the tennis courts at riverfront in one sign instead of having 20 signs on the sides with 20 different people,” Vulich said.
Obren proposed the advertising contracts span three to five years, although a draft contract has not been created yet. The item will come back to the Committee of the Whole once a contract is prepared.