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School Sells Naming Rights to Gym

November 16, 2001

BROOKLAWN, N.J. (AP) _ The big-money mindset of pro sports is trickling down to kickball players: An elementary school gym has sold its naming rights.

The ShopRite of Brooklawn Gymnasium opens next fall, taking its name in exchange for $100,000 from a supermarket.

The supermarket is the only one in this blue-collar suburb of 2,000 near Philadelphia. Bruce Darrow, vice president of the school board, said the store will have no control over the gym’s use.

``If ShopRite put up a sign 400 feet from us, we get nothing out of it,″ Darrow said Friday. ``If they put it on the building, they’re showing their commitment to Brooklawn and getting some name recognition.″

While some question the ethics of allowing commercial sponsorship among children, Superintendent John Kellmayer said the 20-year deal made sense for his one-school, 300-student district, one of the state’s poorest.

``American corporations spend billions of dollars on the Olympics. All we’re saying is: Why don’t you spend some of that on our public schools?″ Kellmayer said.

Corporate sponsorship is a matter of course in pro sports and has become increasingly common for high school and college sports teams. Many schools have gotten funding by signing deals with soft drink companies, but Brooklawn’s deal, coming at the elementary school level, is unusual.

Edward Kealy, executive director of the nonprofit Committee for Education Funding, said he had never heard of a similar arrangement.

Jeff Brown, who helps operate the supermarket, said he has worked with schools on other projects and saw the school board’s suggestion of a naming rights deal as ``just the next step.″

``If the students can be successful, it helps our whole town thrive,″ Brown said.

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