Your name here

Published 11:12 am Friday, April 15, 2011

AHOSKIE – Ready to put its multi-million dollar ball park on full display, members of the Ahoskie Town Council approved a way to recoup a small amount of that investment during their monthly meeting here Tuesday.

With opening day for youth baseball and softball two weeks away (Saturday, April 30), Council members opted to allow for outfield advertisement signs at each of the three new ballfields as well as at Dennis Everett Field, a town-owned ballpark located at Hertford County High School.

In a related matter, Council approved the establishment of guidelines for individuals or businesses wishing to purchase naming rights to certain portions or all of the new Ahoskie Creek Recreation Complex.

“Tina (Pritchard, Ahoskie Recreation Director) and I have studied what other communities are doing in regards to allowing for outfield advertising signs at town-owned and operated ballparks,” Town Manager Tony Hammond said.

Hammond said the contract he and Pritchard developed outlined specific guidelines for such signage. He said all would be constructed of white vinyl and each would measure three feet by six feet bearing the company’s name and phone number.

“We want them to be uniform in size and material,” Hammond stated.

The money generated from the sale of this advertising will be used for maintenance of the fields, Hammond added.

“The business community has been asking about the possibility of the town offering these types of signs,” Hammond noted.

As stated in the contract, the cost for the outfield advertising signs is $300 per year.

Ahoskie Mayor Linda Blackburn asked if that was the same price every year, adding that she would like to see the renewal rate cheaper for those wishing to keep their signs displayed year after year.

“I would like to see those renewing their contract each year receive some sort of break in the cost,” Blackburn suggested. “I understand paying the $300 the first year because of the costs associated with making the sign. But once it’s made, all we’ll be doing is putting it up when the season opens and taking it down when the season ends.”

“Making the sign is the biggest cost,” Pritchard confirmed.

“I’d rather offer a lower renewal rate as an incentive to entice the business owner to have his or her sign on display year after year,” Blackburn stressed.

Upon a motion from Councilman O.S. “Buck” Suiter Jr. and a second from Councilman Winfred Hardy Jr., the board approved an initial cost of $300 per advertising sign and a $200 renewal fee in subsequent years.

In the second measure, Council members studied and later approved a policy as presented by the Ahoskie Recreation Committee for sponsorship opportunities at the athletic complex. That policy allows for naming rights at the complex as follows:

Baseball fields (3) at $35,000 each;

Soccer field (1 on Edgewood Circle) at $25,000;

Ahoskie Creek Amphitheater at $25,000; and

Recreational Complex at $55,000.

Hammond said the naming rights are for a period of five years and that the overall cost can be made in annual payments. Renewals are permissible at the end of the five-year period.

“There are people standing in line waiting for some action on this,” Hammond said. “There are some people that want to name these facilities.”

Hammond added that while the costs of naming rights appears high, he said they were moderate compared to what is offered by other municipalities.

“There are some that I saw that were $50,000 to $60,000 each,” he said.

Pritchard said the signs for the naming rights would be placed prominently at the field (one per facility). Self-design of the sign is allowed, per approval of the Town Council.

“We do have people standing in line for this and they want to pay up front,” Pritchard stated.

After clearing up that naming the entire complex does not override the sponsorships of the individual fields/amphitheater, Council members approved the measure upon a motion from Hardy and a second from Malcolm Copeland.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

email author More by Cal