This past fall, Plymouth High School finished renovations on a brand new athletic area with a new impressive entryway to the high school track and “Rockpile” football field. The multi-million dollar renovations include, (ADA) American Disability Act accessible bleachers, a brand new freestanding concession building, a storage building, a beautiful outdoor patio picnic area, all new heated and air-conditioned restrooms, and fresh landscaping to complement the additions. One major thing missing is improvements to the football field itself.
The school would like to install synthetic turf, but the price tag to do so will take a lot of green – upwards of $1.6 million and that’s one of the reasons Plymouth Community School Corporation is looking to form partnerships with local businesses in exchange for naming rights at the high school’s renovated football stadium.
Securing sponsorships might have been a mute subject a decade ago, but with budgets tight, schools like Plymouth High School are searching for avenues of revenue, and athletics are no exception.
Superintendent Dan Tyree said the school corporation hopes to replace the natural grass football field next summer. “The new fields could lead to cost savings down the road. Money spent on field maintenance comes out of the operational budget; if we are able to afford a turf field we could save tens of thousands of dollars in upkeep over the next decade,” said Tyree.
Dave Schoof, the Director of Operations at Plymouth Community School Corporation, said grass fields require watering, mowing, fertilizing, and painting; while synthetic fields require grooming every couple of weeks with a large, rake-like brush. He estimates a new synthetic field will have a small fraction of the maintenance costs related to natural grass.
Plus Tyree said, “Another plus having a turf field would allow us to rent out the facility without worrying about overuse. Turf can be playable 24 hours a day with no repairs required between events. More playing time means more potential revenue.
“It may seem like a lot of money initially, but it’s a cost-benefit when you do a savings analysis and you sit down and look at the big picture,” said Plymouth High School’s Roy Benge Athletic Director.
Tyree points out partnerships with the local business community aren’t new if you look inside several of the schools that make up the Plymouth Community School Corporation. For instance, the Project-based learning school within Plymouth High School was renamed the Weidner School of Inquiry in 2012 when Dan Weidner, president of Plymouth-based Weidner & Company, P.C., who, along with his wife, Julie, both Plymouth High School graduates, made a $100,000 donation.
In addition to the football stadium, Tyree said the corporation has naming rights open for the new storage building, and the convenience center (restrooms) building at the athletic complex. Tom Wiers, president of Wiers Fleet Partners, has secured the $12,000 naming rights for the concession building and Dr. Tod A. Stillson and his family are proud sponsors of the outdoor patio picnic area.
Easterday Houin LLP, Regional Turf LLC, and local State Farm agent Laurie Sutter have also taken advantage of the $1000 community planter sponsorship. Other local businesses such as Montgomery Well Drilling and Johnson-Danielson Funeral Home secured naming rights on one of the many concrete structural columns available, meanwhile Ruoff Home Mortgage out of Plymouth, is the proud sponsor of the large planter area built into the outdoor patio facade.
As for the price of the stadium naming rights sponsorship, Superintendent Tyree said the 10-year dollar amount contract is currently negotiable.
“Right now we have a handful of interested companies, but as to date a contract hasn’t been signed. Some parties who we have spoken to about the naming rights have connections to Plymouth High School, some of the interested parties have a business based here, and others have shown interest in having their corporation’s name on our field,” said Tyree.
Athletic naming rights certainly aren’t a new idea. Nearby in St. Joseph County, Penn Harris Madison School Corporation approved a 12-year naming rights contract for its football field to Teachers Credit Union for $400,000, a 5-year contract for $25,000 for its softball field to South Bend law firm May Oberfell Lorber, and a 5-year $25,000 contract to Zolman’s Tire & Auto Care for naming rights to a concession stand.
Down state, the Hamilton Southeastern School District met a $400,000 10-year contract agreement with Reynolds Farm Equipment for naming rights to the Fishers High School football field.
Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School has a 25-year naming rights contract with St. Vincent’s HealthCare. Just this year, Avon High School entered into a 10-year partnership with Andy Mohr Automotive valued at more than $1 million for naming rights to its athletic complex among other things. Athletic Director Brad Holsinger this is the second type of sponsorship contract which brings in $100,000 a year.
PCSC Marketing Director Judi Lykowski said, “Corporations or businesses who end up securing naming rights to the PHS field and stadium will certainly get a lot of brand recognition! Plymouth High School has great media visibility! Each Friday night our Rockies make the local sports highlights on every local TV affiliate (ABC, CBS, CW, and NBC) and two local radio stations broadcast live each home game as well.
Lykowski pointed out various sponsorship-naming rights opportunities range from individual paver bricks, various building naming rights, to business logo advertising opportunities in two large areas that are more than 100-feet into the air on our bleacher wrap that can be seen for nearly a mile away!
Tyree said, “Our field is used for more than just football games for the high school team. Our junior high football team and our high school track team hold their athletic competitions at the Rockpile as well. Our state award winning band also host competitions on the field where thousands of parents, students, and observers from our local metropolitan market attend.”
If you are interested in discussing naming right possibilities at Plymouth High School contact Superintendent Dan Tyree or Marketing Director Judi Lykowski at (574) 935-3115.