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2006 News from Mecklenburg County

February 13, 2006


Charlotte, NC - The staff of Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department will begin work immediately to craft a proposed sponsorship policy for parks, nature preserves, recreation centers, and special facilities-for all facilities in the parks department.

"The need to establish such a policy is underscored by the offer of Scott Clark's Toyota City to sponsor the Parkshell at Freedom Park," said Park and Recreation Director Wayne Weston. "This offer gives us the opportunity to develop a policy with public participation at all levels and with geographic equity."

The Parkshell is often referred to as "band shell." Weston said Scott Clark's offer and the department's proposed policy will be debated by the public, reviewed by the Central III Park District Advisory Committee and the Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Commission, and voted on by the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners. Weston hopes a policy can be enacted by early summer.

The parks department notes that technically Scott Clark proposed a sponsorship, not "naming rights," for the Parkshell. The structure already has a name: the Alan Newcomb Memorial Parkshell." The Parkshell was dedicated in 1975 in memory of the WBTV announcer, personality and weathercaster. Newcomb died in 1966. A quote from Newcomb appears on a plaque on the Parkshell: "We have a responsibility to every human being we touch."

The parks department has already decided that if the County accepts Scott Clark's sponsorship offer, the money would be used to upgrade the audio and electrical systems at the Alan Newcomb Memorial Parkshell. The new sound system would be more efficient, directing sound inward toward the audience to reduce noise in the nearby neighborhood. Scott Clark proposed a ten year, $100,000 sponsorship with the money going to Partners for Parks in exchange for recognition of the sponsorship in the parks on small signs.

Exactly how many and what kind of signs should be allowed will be determined in the new policy. The parks department staff will review the policies and practices of other departments around the country that accept sponsorships. "Some of these departments raise millions of dollars for park and recreation facilities," Weston says. "That money takes a burden off taxpayers and provides a margin of excellence above traditional local government funding. We want to benefit from their experience as we craft this policy in hopes of reducing the constant struggle to find additional revenue."

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