Wednesday, June 23, 2010

In Philadelphia, naming rights for transit station near sports facilities is worth three times more (per year) than MTA/FCR deal for Brooklyn's hub

Here's some more evidence that Forest City Ratner (on behalf of Barclays) got a very nice deal from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on naming rights for the Atlantic Avenue/Pacific Street station.

For a similar deal in Philadelphia, the local transit authority is about to get three times as much: $600,000 a year, vs. $200,000 a year.

(The deal must be approved tomorrow. Here's a tough editorial from the Philadelphia Daily News warning that "taking corporate money in this way leads to less, not more, public commitment to the so-called social contract.")

The deals aren't directly comparable. In Philadelphia, the AT&T Station deal with SEPTA lasts only five years, worth $3 million, while the deal with the MTA is $4 million over 20 years.

MTA opacity

How did the MTA set a price? The agency's then-CFO Gary Dellaverson had said, "We've never successfully completed a naming rights before.... I don't have a nifty little spreadsheet to show you how we came up with $200,000. Our real estate division did review some naming rights that had been done by transportation and other entities. But y'know, we kinda felt our way into it."

I asked for information about that review, but my Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request was stonewalled, as I wrote last July.

(Here's Michael D.D. White's thorough critique of the MTA decision, explaining that $4 million is not a "goodly sum," as the New York Times opined.)

More teams in Philadelphia

There's at least one reason why the Philadelphia naming rights opportunity might be more coveted than the one in Brooklyn. The station in Philadelphia, at the end of the line, serves three separate sports facilities housing four teams (hockey, basketball, baseball, football), so presumably would get more sports media coverage.

There would be only one team at the Barclays Center. But it's in the media capital of the world, and there will be lots of other highly-publicized events.

More transit in Brooklyn

But the volume of station use is almost certainly higher in Brooklyn. The current Pattison Avenue station in Philadelphia has only four tracks, and serves only one subway line.

The Atlantic Avenue/Pacific Street station in Brooklyn has ten tracks and serves ten subway lines--as well as the Long Island Rail Road.

Name erased in Philadelphia

Benjamin Kabak, in his Second Avenue Sagas blog, warns that the Philadelphia example is in one way worse--SEPTA is willing to jettison the station's geographic identifier.

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