Greater Reading Chamber Alliances now sells naming rights - 3/12/2019
For the past century, deals for naming rights have become commonplace in corporate America.
One of the earliest examples occurred in 1926 when chewing gum maker Wrigley purchased the Chicago Cubs and changed the name from Cubs Park to Wrigley Field.
We mostly think about multimillion-dollar naming rights deals for large capital building projects such as municipal convention centers or sport stadiums.
In Reading, we are familiar with such deals from the naming of the Santander Arena or the Santander Performing Arts Center and FirstEnergy Stadium.
But naming rights are becoming popular on a smaller scale.
Recently, the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance introduced a program for its members to pay for naming rights of its meeting rooms in its building at 606 Court St.
The chamber moved to Court Street in early 2018 after the Greater Berks Development Fund, one of the three organizations that merged to form the chamber alliance, purchased the building from Baker College for $1.2 million.
Randy Peers, president and CEO of the alliance, said naming rights is just one of many advertising opportunities the chamber offers to its 1,300 members.
“The naming rights were a way to offer some additional exposure to chamber member companies, given that our new headquarters has attractive and functional meeting rooms,” Peers said.
But Peers said that it is not uncommon for chambers to offer naming rights, citing the Lancaster County chamber.
The Lancaster chamber moved into 115 E. King St. in Lancaster in 2017.
The $7 million project was actually an extensive renovation of an existing building, which is now known as the BB&T Business Center.
BB&T Bank initially donated $1.2 million to the project, and later followed that with a $50,000 gift. The naming of the building was tied to donations that came through the capital campaign, according to a chamber official.
Conference rooms in the new building also were named for additional donations in the campaign.
But the naming of the building and conference rooms was a permanent deal.
The alliance chose to offer five-year naming rights for three rooms: the main conference room on the third floor, the fourth floor multipurpose room and the general-purpose meeting rooms off the lobby area on the ground floor.
The naming rights for each of the rooms includes branded signs.
The 1,308-square-foot conference room has five-year naming rights for $50,000.The multipurpose meeting room is offered at $30,000, and the general-purpose meeting rooms can be named for $20,000.
Lori B. Donofrio-Galley, executive director of the Northeast Berks Chamber of Commerce, said its chamber leases office space from BB&T Bank, so it doesn't have the opportunity to offer room naming rights.
But it does offer chamber sponsorships, with the top level offered for $5,000.
“We took a different approach to this, where we offer chamber sponsorships for the whole year,” Donofrio-Galley said. “The platinum level is the title sponsor for the chamber annual dinner in September.”
The benefit also includes sponsorships in all media and events; the opportunity to speak at the annual dinner; a full-color, full-page ad in the 2020 directory; a website banner ad; and a table for eight at the chamber dinner.
Additional sponsorships are offered at gold ($3,000), silver ($1,500), bronze ($750), supporter ($300) and friend ($150) levels.
Michele Barrett, special events and marketing director for the TriCounty Area Chamber of Commerce, said its chamber takes a different approach to naming rights.
The chamber, headquartered in Pottstown, has a conference room, which is available to be named by a member business on a monthly, rotating basis.
“The naming right puts their name on our conference room and allows them to put promotional material in the meeting spaces,” Barrett said. “The name changes each month, but some choose to take multiple months.”
The naming rights cost $75 per month and include the placement of the sponsor name on three doors.
“All of our members are able to use the meeting space as part of their memberships, so there are at least five to seven meetings a month,” Barrett said. “It's a lot of exposure for very little money.”
Eileen Dautrich, president of the TriCounty Chamber, said the chamber has been offering the program in some capacity for the past 15 years.
“It just gives our members another chance to have some marketing opportunities,” Dautrich said.
Peers said the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance also offers many other ways for its members to promote their businesses. These include digital advertising platforms, signature events sponsorships, and the Commerce Quarterly and Women2Women magazines.
As for the conference room naming-rights program, Peers said that to date, Brentwood Industries has signed on for a five-year deal.