By Steven Fletcher
The Microsoft Field at Newell Stadium?
It might be a dream for city officials to draw that level of corporate giant.
But some corporation — or a donor with very deep pockets — could have its name emblazoned on Gloucester High School's completed Newell Stadium, all for a tidy bid of at least $500,000.
Mayor Carolyn Kirk's office has drafted a request for proposals for title sponsorship rights to the crumbling stadium. According to the document, the city is looking for a firm, or large-scale donor, to pay for the rights to put their name on the stadium's field, scoreboard, or other significant parts. On what, though, is up to, who, or what wins the bid and the city to decide.
In the proposal, Kirk emphasizes that any new name will still include the phrase "Newell Stadium." In a letter announcing the request to the City Council, Kirk states the name would look like the "XYZ" field at Newell Stadium. That is, whoever pays at least half a million for a title sponsorship, will need to keep Newell Stadium in the title — continuing to recognize Edward Dolliver Newell, a Gloucester naval officer who was killed in World War I.
"We wanted to set certain standards when it came to title sponsorship," said Kirk.
If the city and the project draw a sponsor, however, Newell's field would apparently be the first in Massachusetts or perhaps New England that would bear a corporate name. While corporate naming rights are common in the professional sports ranks — from Foxboro's Gillette Stadium to San Francisco's AT&T Park — sponsorship on the high school level has generally been limited to advertising on scoreboards and other amenities.
The request states that any and all signs and banners the sponsor sets up need city approval, and any advertisements a sponsor will place will require City review before it goes into the stadium. Any banners, signs, or anything else with the sponsor's name attached will also be left to the sponsor to cover the cost,
Kirk said she expects the request — which cover roughly a sixth of the overall cost for the $3 million joint project between the private, nonprofit Gloucester Fishermen's Association and the city, which is bonding for $1.5 million with state assistance as well.
The request, she said, will leave potential sponsors 30 days to put a bid forward. Whoever's bid the city accepts will have the title sponsorship for 20 years.
The potential sponsorship, said Dick Wilson, primary fund-raiser for the Newell Stadium Renewal project, is open to anyone and everyone.
"We wanted to see if anyone would be willing to come up with a serious sponsorship," said Wilson.
He added that the association has looking for high level corporate sponsors, in addition to local, person-by-person efforts. The association last year started the 1,000 by 1,000 drive, in which residents pledge and contribute $200 each year for a five-year period. The Newell project has also drawn a $50,000 donation from Gorton's of Gloucester, the largest single "Newell Renewal" donation to date.
Steven Winslow, project manager for the city's the Community Development Department, said the city has also applied for a state and federal $500,000 Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC) grant. The city expects a response on that grant in October.
Wilson said, aside from the city and state funds, the GFAA has raised some $250,000 in private donations and has another $150,000 in pledges.
"We're doing fine," said Wilson, "If the wind blows in the right direction, we could start by the first of next year."
Steven Fletcher may be contacted at 1-978-283-7000 x3455, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @stevengdt.