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Next Stop, Walmart Crossing: the Hail Mary of T Naming Rights

The MBTA appears to be moving full speed ahead with plans to sell naming rights to various T stations. The authority has New York-based IMG Worldwide, best-known for repping sports and fashion stars, preparing a request for proposals. (It's already conducted a focus group and will report the results to the MBTA board at its next meeting. We've tried to imagine the scenarios of the focus group: "Say, so the conductor announces you're pulling into McDonald's Station—does that make you hungry, not hungry, sad?").

So suppose if everything goes according to the tentative plans. What then? Nothing maybe. The MBTA tried in 2001 to sell the naming rights to the Back Bay, Downtown Crossing, South Station and Sullivan Square T stops, but nobody ponied up any dough. And it's unlikely the sales of naming rights would make a big dent in the MBTA's $161 million deficit.

That's because the rights usually don't sell for all that much, about the cost of a Beacon Hill townhouse or a downtown parking space. Per CommonWealth magazine: "The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority last year signed a five-year, $5 million contract to rename a busy Philadelphia subway stop as AT&T Station. In New York, Barclay’s is paying $200,000 a year to put its name on a metro station."

· The T's Naming Rights Deal [CommonWealth]
· Advertisers May Get Shot at Renaming MBTA Stations [Metro]

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