Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Naming Rights Go Wrong

May 17, 2003

States are scratching everywhere for new revenue to offset severe budget shortfalls, but Massachusetts lawmakers really are reaching. State Rep. Bradley Jones Jr., the minority leader in the state House of Representatives, is proposing legislation to sell naming rights for state parks and forests.

Imagine, Walden Pond brought to you by Evian natural spring water. Or Colt firearms' Lexington battlefield. "What's next?" asked one environmentalist, "big plastic Coke bottles on top of the Statehouse?" Maybe, unless Pepsi offered a better deal.

In California, if this pernicious idea spreads, there could be Coppertone Bolsa Chica State Beach. Or Fort Ross, the old Russian settlement, sponsored by Stolichnaya. How about Goldman Sachs Golden Gate Bridge?

Steve Adams of Boston-based Pioneer Institute, a conservative think tank, sees nothing wrong with this. "No one is talking about putting up giant signs that mar the landscape," he said.

Actually, that's not certain. Massachusetts lawmakers are still working on proposed guidelines for the sponsorships. President Reagan's controversial secretary of the Interior, James A. Watt, suggested such an idea two decades ago -- for instance having McDonald's sponsor a campground -- and fortunately was hooted down.

The National Park Service does have slightly more subtle partnerships with businesses. Target Corp. and the Discovery Channel helped finance the restoration of the Washington Monument. This is noted in small signs bearing their logos, but there is no thought of attaching corporate logos to park names.

It's shameful enough to sell corporate naming rights to professional sports stadiums and arenas financed with taxpayer money. This curse should not be further visited on the nation's most natural and historic areas. If any member of the California Legislature read about the Massachusetts bill and wondered if maybe.... Well, forget it.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|