A new low(e): Ads proposed for Minneapolis parks
by: Chris Steller
Wed May 28, 2008 at 2:42:13 PM
from MN Monitor
Bus windows and skyways get covered in ads; are public parks next? Minneapolis taxpayers could soon be greeted at their city parks by banners advertising a national home improvement chain that has no stores in the city proper. Lowe’s says it’s willing to donate $90,000 in goods and services to six parks. The string attached: Lowe’s wants to hang 8-foot by 2-foot banners proclaiming “This area brought to you in part by Lowe’s” in outdoor locations such as Loring Park as well as smaller signs near donated equipment reading: “These products and more are available at Lowe’s.”
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s Administration and Finance Committee voted last week to send the proposal to the full board next week, although Commissioner Mary Merrill Anderson, a former Minneapolis park superintendent, acknowledged, “We’re holding our nose.” Commissioner Annie Young abstained, saying she’d read about Lowe’s troubles and thus recognized the company’s need for a marketing boost, but “I really don’t want an 8 ft by 2 ft banner outdoors.” Commissioner Scott Vreeland questioned the Lowe’s approach of targeting parks in certain zip codes. “I don’t know if anyone actually goes to Lowe’s in Minneapolis. It’s kind of a funny demographic. I’ve never been to a Lowe’s,” Vreeland said. “If I walk into Matthews Park, and it says, ‘This area brought to you by Lowe’s,’ that bugs me. Because this area is brought to us by taxpayers.”
Several commissioners said sponsorships were the wave of the future and Minneapolis simply needs a policy for cutting deals. No policy is in place yet; Lowe’s would be an exception, or perhaps the first drip in a coming flood. “Home Depot and other stores that haven’t requested this are going to go ‘Hey, me too!'” warned Commissioner Carol Kummer. “Thinking about how beautiful the parks look, we sure don’t need them cluttered up with corporate signage. If they get really jerky about it, tell them to take their 90 thou and go to …” She trailed off but another commissioner filled in the sentence with the name of another park district: “Three Rivers.” General Manager Don Siggelkow, who is asking the board whether staff should continue negotiations with Lowe’s corporate marketing department, said Lowe’s was already seeking similar arrangements around the area.