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City Wants to Auction Right to Sponsor Basketball Courts, Dog Runs.

By Jill Colvin | June 8, 2012 4:59pm
Basketball courts like this one could soon get corporate sponsors.
Basketball courts like this one could soon get corporate sponsors.
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NEW YORK CITY — This dog run brought to you by McDonald’s?

The cash-strapped city is attempting to raise extra cash by auctioning off the right to sponsor city basketball courts and dog runs.

The city’s Parks Department released two requests for proposals Friday for bidders interested in slapping their logos on hundreds of city-run facilities, including 631 basketball courts and 55 dog runs.

In addition to adding signage to the sites, which would have to be approved by the city, the sponsors would be allowed to “hold a limited number of special events for the public.” The plan is expected to generate $5 million a year, officials said.

“During difficult fiscal times, New York City is seeking innovative solutions to ensure our continued financial health,” Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said in a statement.

“These sponsorships will help maintain New York City parks and allow us to continue providing vital services to the public,” he said.

But the news was a blow to advocates who have long complained about the growing private use of the city’s public spaces.

“You cannot just auction off perk land to the highest bidder,” said NYC Park Advocates president Geoffrey Croft. “This goes against everything that a public park is supposed to be.”

He said that the group will be looking into the legality of the move, which city officials said was first floated in the city’s preliminary budget plan earlier this year.

Croft said the city has increasingly been relying on commercial deals to cover its budget deficit.

“He’s continuing to auction off our public parks and treat them as cash cows,” he said. “This has got to stop.”

Administration officials note the city partners with hundreds of corporate sponsors on things like sports and arts events, educational and children’s programming. 

Companies have until Aug. 29 to respond.