With the Arkansas Razorbacks football team having fallen on hard times in recent years and that $160 million stadium expansion and renovation finally completed, the prospects following a miserable 2-10 season need to improve right away.
With that in mind, I figured the least any self-respecting newspaper columnist can do is offer suggestions for boosting revenue that might help offset any resulting financial losses. No doubt $160 million is a mighty large pistachio to crack, even for the university's ample athletic department.
It seems pretty much a piggy in a poke to be able to raise hundreds of thousands, even millions, without changing a thing. Well, except for adding some credits in game-day programs. But I believe I have a solution.
Bear with me now, and please resist any urges you might feel to refer to me in the future as either the Yoda of Marketing or tragically demented.
Since it's become more popular than ever nowadays to name university stadiums and fields after major contributors to the schools' athletic programs, I propose selling everything, including naming each yard line on the 100-yard field in its order of significance to the potential for our team to score.
In other words, the neutral 50-yard line, which might go for $50 grand to the high bidder, would be designated by that donor's name. For instance, I might purchase rights to the "Masterson 50" if I only had enough bucks.
Prices for naming each white line would rise on either side of midfield as the chance of scoring improved. That would mean the goal lines might be worth at least $100,000 each to a donor wanting to hear his or her name echoing through the stadium with every Razorback score.
Imagine the ego boost and thrill to a wealthy backer named, say, Thompson who spent $200,000 to purchase both goal lines. "The ball is snapped, Jones takes the handoff around the right side searching for a hole, he cuts against the flow and dives across the Thompson with a foot to spare!" The crowd roars. The band plays. Thompson, himself, stands, smiles and waves to the adoring throng.
The 30-yard lines on either side also could be more valuable yardage markers, considering a lot of field goals are kicked from around there. Even the goal posts could go for a smooth $150,000 each. Visualize, if you will: "The kicker eyes the Gibson posts at the Milburn line. He takes two steps and lets it fly from the Fitton! It's up. And it's good!"
I can almost hear it reverberating through the enormous stadium now, can't you? Well, OK then, perhaps listen just a little closer.
Come to think of it, the university also could sell the naming rights to all four plastic goal-line pylons. And what about those yellow referee foul flags? They are bound to be worth a smooth $20,000 each. "The referee has thrown a Smith at the Berry line, nullifying what would certainly have been a catch right at the Esters pylon."
I can even see inscribing contributors' names on the footballs and using differently named balls for each game. Fifteen grand to personalize a game ball seems reasonable enough. Isn't that plastic kickoff tee worth something? Perhaps several hundred?
See how this revolutionary concept could be worth millions to the athletic department?
Should the idea fly, why not think even bigger? Go ahead and name all 76,000 seats in the stadium after fans who could have a very small bronze plaque engraved and attached with their name for, say, $5,000 each. With this kind of ownership investment, they're bound to feel a close personal connection to the Razorbacks' Don W. Reynolds stadium and Frank Broyles Field.
They could bequeath their named seat to an heir upon their death (for a renewal charge, of course).
While we're busy naming stadium parts for remuneration, what the heck, I can see selling names for the restrooms, their contents and even emblazoned above each concession stand.
Why not? I could live with the Masterson Memorial Men's Room. I just couldn't afford that either. My friends at the morning coffee group suggested I might be able to take a second mortgage on the house and finance a familiar men's wall plumbing fixture bearing my name, perhaps even with its own individual overhead spotlight (like in a museum) denoting my contributions to this revolutionary fundraising concept.
Wait, did I just hear a snicker? Really, people? Yeah, well, mock away if it make you feel superior. Just remember there was a time in the Early Pleistocene (or was it the Mesozoic?) when most stadiums existed without the names of contributors too.
Just you wait. If this inspired vision (manifested during my morning shower) takes wing, we may just see universities across the nation embracing such a lucrative concept. And incidentally, there's no charge for the brainstorm.
Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist. Email him at [email protected]
Editorial on 02/26/2019
Print Headline: MIKE MASTERSON: Sell it all