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A debate over naming field

Published: Tuesday, April 30, 2013 5:24 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, April 30, 2013 5:25 p.m. CDT

The biggest advertiser gets the biggest billing.

That's often the case in our world, but should it apply to our public facilities?

That was the question recently when the Sterling school board approved a 5-year, nearly $250,000 contract with Sterling Chevrolet for naming rights to the high school football field.

Many of the commenters on our website and Facebook page worried that the Roscoe Eades Stadium name would fade away. But the decision on naming the new turf field has no effect on that name, officials said.

Some readers regard the name Sterling Chevrolet Field as unfortunate commercialization – something that has become common in professional sports.

"This is a high school field we are talking about. We just awarded corporate sponsorship of a high school field?" one reader said on Facebook. "I will never call the Sears Tower anything but that, no matter who paid for naming rights. I will never utter the name of the new field; it will always be Roscoe Eades Stadium, period."

Another reader commented on our site: "If Sterling Chevy wants to donate a huge amount of money, why can't the advertising option be there like for everyone else? ... When the contract is up, someone else may want to write a bigger check and have the field renamed."

Officials said the Sterling Chevrolet revenue will pay off the remainder of the $1.2 million loan to install the turf and allow the Sterling Schools Foundation to begin saving money on field maintenance.

Overall, it seems like a pretty good deal for the school, although I've never been wild about naming public venues after businesses. Sometimes, though, such maneuvers are necessary to allow progress.

But let's not get carried away with renaming public facilities after businesses. Could you imagine a Pete Harkness Elementary? What about renaming Fifth Street to Fifth Third Bank Street? Martin's Landing to Martin's Steaks & Spirits Landing? Duis Recreation Center to Do-It Best Recreation Center?

Yes, we should have limits.

David Giuliani is a reporter for Sauk Valley Media. He can be reached at dgiuliani@saukvalley or at 800-798-4085, ext. 525. 

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