The Montgomery County Planning Board unanimously approved the new Corporate Sponsorship Policy on January 31, 2013.
The policy is intended to guide the development of a Corporate Sponsorship Program which will be administered by the Montgomery Parks Foundation. Engaging corporate sponsors will generate non-tax based revenue to enhance the Department’s parks, facilities, services and events to further benefit the public. Sponsorship opportunities also provide an important collaboration between parks and the business community.
The approval of the policy marks the completion of the first phase of the program development process and the process will now move to evaluating and bundling the opportunities throughout the M-NCPPC Montgomery Parks system. The policy does not allow renaming of entire parks or selling parks. It is not intended to commercialize one of the most valued community assets intended for recreation and leisure and relaxation.
The policy, which took months to craft, was based on research and analysis of hundreds of park and county agencies nationally successfully engaging corporate support. These successful program include the City of Gaithersburg Parks, Recreation and Culture and Bethesda Green locally, as well as the City of Boulder Parks and Recreation and Seattle Parks and Recreation. Research indicates that sponsorship programs can generate anywhere from $100,000 to $1,600,000 annually.
“We’ve already had sponsors for many of our programs, as well as facilities named for corporate donors—like the Discovery Center at SoccerPlex (South Germantown Recreational Park) for the Discovery Channel,” said Mary Bradford Director of Montgomery County Department of Parks. “This approval will bring rules and order to the process, plus allow the Montgomery Parks Foundation to seek corporate sponsors for many more opportunities that could supplement our budget.”
During the next phase of the Corporate Sponsorship Program Parks and Foundation staff will develop varying levels of system-wide sponsorship packages and associated recognition benefits and standards. Once developed, these packages will be presented to the Planning Board for approval before the program is marketed to potential sponsors. The goals for the sponsorship program include:
- Raise revenue through appropriate partner / sponsor programs;
- Enhance, expand and sustain programs, facilities and services for the public;
- Increase awareness of M-NCPPC and its programs and services among new audiences; and
- Avoid or minimalize adverse impact on the park visitors’ overall experience and the visual qualities of the park environment.
“We appreciate the support of the Planning Board in approving the Corporate Sponsorship Policy and look forward to the next phase of developing the program,” said Debbie Rankin, Executive Director of the Montgomery Parks Foundation. “Montgomery County residents are fortunate to have a wonderful, robust park system, and, we are optimistic about this program as an opportunity to expand our county’s park assets and programs while establishing mutually beneficial relationships in the community.”
The sponsorship program will provide businesses and nonprofit organizations naming, sponsorship and advertising opportunities for park facilities and programs (naming rights for entire parks will not be considered), which could include:
- Regional and recreational athletic fields;
- Ice rinks;
- Dog parks;
- Picnic pavilions; and
- Special events and programs (such as the Fall Harvest Festival, concert series, or the Garden of Lights holiday light show)
Status of the program will be provided annually in a report from the Montgomery Parks Foundation, presented to the Planning Board. Any organization interested in becoming a park sponsor should contact the Montgomery Parks Foundation.