Ads could come to South Portland High School sports fields | News

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Ads could come to South Portland High School sports fields
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SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --

The South Portland Schools Superintendent will bring a proposed plan to increase revenue to their district's sports budget to the meeting on February 8.

The plan would create corporate sponsorships, where local businesses could buy ad space at the South Portland High School football field and gymnasium.

Athletic Director Todd Livingston said the plan could help lessen the burden of fundraising by booster clubs.

"Any cost over a certain amount, our boosters are responsible for, and those can be significant," said Livingston. "They often fund some of the essential items that we have to have in place for our student-athletes safety."

Livingston said football boosters alone raised $25,000 last year. Volleyball boosters raised $10,000 last year. He said only four percent of the sports budget goes toward equipment, like football helmets, soccer balls, or softballs, but more than half of the students at South Portland High School play a sport. The school has 41 varsity, JV, and freshman teams.

The school gives three teams $2500 each per year for new uniforms. Livingston said football helmets can cost between $300 and $500 apiece. Livingston said the ads could potentially bring in thousands of dollars of revenue to take some of the burden off of boosters.

"If you were to combine the revenue generated by all of our boosters, it's very significant. Would it reach the amount of revenue that could be generated from this? Probably not," said Livingston. "I've seen the amount of money that boosters have to raise, and it's not getting any easier. If there's a way that we can generate revenue in a creative way, I personally think it's a no-brainer."

Superintendent Ken Kunin understood both sides of the argument.

"We had several members who upon reflection said, 'really this is not where I think we should be going.' But I think it is a reality. If we want to maintain strong programs, it can't always come back to the South Portland taxpayers," said Kunin. "We want to offer as rich of an athletic program as we possibly can, but with budgets getting tighter and tighter, we think we need to look for alternative sources of revenue."

Kunin is not required to get the school board's opinion before moving forward with a decision, according to school policy.

"But this is such a shift for us that I feel it's very important to get the board's view," said Kunin.

Other schools in Maine display ads at their sports facilities, such as Greeley High School and Biddeford High School.

80 percent of the sports budget is spent on coaches' salaries. Boosters currently fund four coaches' salaries. Livingston said the goal is to put nine more stipends for salaries back into next year's budget since they were cut last year.

Opponents of the current plan said they might accept a more scaled-back version.


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