By Katie Dahlstrom
Herald Staff Writer
Clinton Recreation Department officials know they want to raise money off their facilities through advertising and sponsorships, but where to draw the line of what’s appropriate for fields that will be filled with children on any given night they’re not so sure.
Recreation Director Gregg Obren and Program Supervisor Josh Eggers are working with city administration and Clinton City Council members to develop a policy that will outline what types of marketing or sponsorships are appropriate for the various groups that use the parks and recreation facilities. Over the course of the different sports seasons, Jurgensen Soccer and Sports Park offers advertisers a chance to reach 10,000 people, Obren said. Emma Young would see around 8,000 during the year.
“We have three fields occupied four to five nights a week, four to five hours at a time, the traffic is just unbelievable. So I think there would be a need for it. I think that people would want to put signage up, but what does that policy look like? Who do we allow? What is the criteria and how do we define that?” Eggers said to members of the Rules and Regulations Committee on Tuesday.
Areas such as the scoreboards, fences, team benches, bleacher backs, concession stands and other areas of the various city parks and fields would be available for a business or person that would like to display a sign. What it would cost to display a sign in any of these areas hasn’t been fleshed out.
For now, officials work to determine what type of signs would be allowed through the sponsorship program they plan to roll out this year. While they don’t want to promote alcohol to children, they also don’t want to deter potential sponsors or advertising, which are projected to bring in around $27,000 that will offset the city contribution to the department.
The draft policy already lays out some of the basic rules that would prohibit any signage that promotes violence, contains tobacco, uses profane language, is libelous or attacks ethnic, racial or religious groups from being displayed.
But whether to allow a bar or distribution company to advertise for a specific brand or drink is another question.
“Maybe the idea is you just cannot list the individual alcoholic beverage,” Obren said.
Bars that wanted to sponsor an adult softball team and have their business name on a shirt would not have need to detract from the fact that they are an alcohol serving establishment because the shirts would be exclusively worn during an adult activity. Obren said of the approximately 100 adult softball teams, about half of them have sponsors that deal in alcohol.
“It’d be one thing to put up a sign that says ‘national name of a beer’ and it’s another to say ‘so and so distributing’ leaving off the specific link then to a product,” City Attorney Jeff Farwell said. “If they want that specific sponsorship of that specific brand then that goes on the T-shirt of an adult league.”
While Obren and Eggers said they are concerned with promotions that are appropriate for children, they’re also concerned about the image being presented from the Recreation Department. The sponsorships and advertising have to be consistent with the department’s goal to have quality programs and facilities in a way that enhances the quality of life and operated in an enjoyable and fiscally responsible, professional manner.
All City Council members will discuss the policy during an upcoming Committee of the Whole meeting.