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Naming rights

It appears the naming rights wars have begun locally. First, Sioux Valley Hospital announced it was going to pay $3.2 million over 20 years for a “corporate sponsorship” of the new athletic field being built by the University of Sioux Falls. (Being a Baptist school, USF refers to the stadium as a “faith-based athletic complex.”) Now, Avera McKennan has upped the ante by proposing to pay $6 million, also over 20 years, for naming rights at the proposed city-funded rec center, which is as yet not voted upon and unapproved.

A couple ironies seem to jump out. First, both hospital systems are not-for-profit operations. There must be pretty good profit to hand out this type of money. Perhaps reinvestment would be an option or, at least, reduced fundraising efforts or pricing. Second, and perhaps even more thought-provoking, it was only a couple weeks ago that Avera McKennan asked its employees to take a vacation day to save the hospital $750,000 to $800,000 in its operating budget. Does this mean the first two and a half years of the sponsorship are actually coming from the hospital’s employees?

The latter point raises another interesting question. Could the time proximity of those two announcements by Avera McKennan or the simple concept that the city has already agreed that a facility it plans to build and fund will carry the hospital’s name lead some otherwise neutral people to go to the polls and vote no?

There’s also an individual side to naming rights. Individuals do, however, tend to get lost when we’re talking about money.


A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog.

Jack London

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