Local

CTA station naming rights for sale

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Forget getting off at the ''O'Hare Blue Line stop'' or the ''Orange Line stop at Midway.'' They could soon have their own corporate names.

Under the new plan, the North and Clybourn Red Line stop could soon be called the Apple Store North and Clybourn stop. The CTA may be selling the naming rights, and the stops would then have a corporate name.

In 2010, the CTA struck a $3.9 million deal with Apple to refurbish the stop, even constructing a courtyard, water fountain and sitting area. That included future naming rights potential. Now the CTA said it's seeking proposals for naming rights to 11 stations, including Addison, Belmont and Fullerton. Chicago, Grand/State, 95th, Midway, Ashland 63rd and 79th stations are also up for bids.

The signage would show the corporate name first along with the station's existing name. A deal would put a sponsor's name and logo on CTA system maps, exclusive advertising within the station, and other collateral materials such as downtown sight-seeing guides produced by the CTA.

The CTA is currently backpedaling on service cuts and fare hikes set for July 1. The CTA was saying that the union would have to make concessions or cuts would come. Now it appears as though that budget could be balanced.

"I guess some might say they're selling out. However, I think if the companies that are close to the stops are willing to put in money and fund the L to help us, have cheaper fares, why not?" said Nick Bacci, CTA rider.

"I don't think they should be taking names for traditional places like that, just because you got money doesn't mean they own these," said Curtis Warren, CTA rider.

Sponsorship proposals are due in September. Sponsorship slots were offered in March for the Holiday Train, Penny Rides, First-Day Free-Rides for CPS students, as well as CTA Bus and Train Tracker.

"I would think of it weird coming up to the Apple stop. I would like to see what the Red Line is known for. It's the stop that's been known for years, or forever," said CTA rider Sylvia Gutierrez.

"I don't think it's a horrible idea. The city is broke, so as far as we can bring in, I think it's a good idea," said CTA rider Whitney Taylor.

Along with this new plan, the CTA also says it's found ways to cut spending. Selling naming rights would quickly bring in revenue.

"They'll get their name on the station, they'll get an opportunity to be available throughout any of the systems, maps, things along those lines. A great opportunity for any international, national brand to continue their outreach on a community level," said Eric Reese, GM, business development for the CTA. "Those are part of many different negotiations garnered. Also any other company that has an opportunity and wants to take a shot at the station. It could be Google, it could be Microsoft, it could be any one of the other major technical firms," said

"They make us look take sellouts, and Chicago is not a sellout city," said Joe Dolan, CTA rider.

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