The superintendent of Riverside-Brookfield High School District 208 is negotiating with a California man who is interested in making a sizable donation to the school in exchange for naming rights at the school’s new football stadium.
“We did have somebody contact us,” said District 208 Superintendent Kevin Skinkis. “We’re trying to negotiate a price, so we’ll see if we can get things figured out. I shouldn’t say a price, a donation. We hopefully should have something worked out, I would hope, in the next month.”
Skinkis declined to name the individual who contacted him last week, citing the delicate nature of ongoing negotiations. Skinkis did say that the man spent part of his childhood living in Riverside, but he did not attend RBHS.
“They do not have any ties to Riverside-Brookfield High School,” Skinkis said. “They lived in Riverside as a child and moved when they were like in the fifth or sixth grade.”
The person contacted Skinkis last week after reading a story in the Chicago Tribune about RBHS offering naming rights in exchange for a sizable donation. The Landmark first reported on the high school’s ad campaign pitching naming rights to donors in January.
“The timing was unique,” Skinkis said. “The person was reading the Tribune waiting for their flight back to California at O’Hare.”
Skinkis plans to brief the school board on the negotiations during a closed session meeting after the board’s regular committee of the whole on Feb. 24.
“I’m excited,” Skinkis said. “Any opportunity we can get is more than we have right now, so if we’re able to land somebody who wants to purchase the naming rights that’s a good start.”
RBHS has run three display advertisements in the Tribune, trumpeting the district’s willingness to trade naming rights for all or part of its new athletic complex, which it plans to build this summer, in exchange for sizable donations.
One more Tribune ad is still yet to come and, on Feb. 27, the high school will run a smaller ad in the nationally distributed USA Today newspaper. Skinkis said that district has spent about $9,000 on advertising for naming rights opportunity. The ads tout the stadium’s proximity to the Brookfield Zoo and that attraction’s two million visitors annually.
Last week, the naming rights opportunity got even more exposure when Skinkis appeared in a two-minute long television news segment as CBS-Channel 2. The station sent reporter Derrick Blakley out to RBHS to do a story about the naming rights offer. Skinkis, football coach Brendan Curtin and boys track coach Tim Olson all appeared in on-camera interviews in Blakley’s report.
Skinkis said that he and his secretary, Mary Ann Nardi, have also sent letters to between 80 to 100 corporations, informing them of the naming rights opportunities at RBHS.
Selling off naming rights is now commonplace at the professional sports level, becoming more common at the college level (University of Illinois’s Assembly Hall is now called the State Farm Center), but is still quite rare at the high school level.
Last year, Skinkis suggested to the school board the idea of exchanging naming rights for sizable donations as a way to defray some of the costs of building a new football stadium and tennis courts.