Bridging Golden Gate’s financial future

It may never be known as “Pepsi Presents the Golden Gate Bridge,” but corporate sponsorship may play a role in the future of the iconic-but-underfunded roadway.

Naming rights for the 1.7-mile bridge that joins San Francisco and Marin counties will not be up for sale, but corporate sponsors would play a behind-the-scenes role under a proposed sponsorship model to be unveiled Friday, Golden Gate Bridge and Transportation District spokeswoman Mary Currie said Tuesday.

“It’s not going to be about naming rights. It’s not going tobe a branding of the bridge identity or any change in that,” Currie said.

She said the bridge district is examining the National Park Service Proud Partners program, which keeps corporate logos and names off attractions and acknowledges sponsorship in park literature.

The district looked to the best practices of several other major landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty, the Smithsonian and the Washington Monument, that have used corporate sponsors, Currie said.

But while public officials and watchdog groups will eye any deal with suspicion, so will corporations, according to one expert.

“Sponsorship done well is not the title — it’s not AT&T Park. It’s not McAfee Coliseum. It’s what you do with it once you have it. What you are buying is rights,” said John Laurant, of Forge Sponsorship Consulting. “DuPont does not pay Jeff Gordon to drive around in a circle. If they’re going to make money on that deal, it’s what they do off the car. The challenge for the bridge is that you don’t have that component.”

Laurant said that, depending on the level of exposure, it may be difficult to persuade potential corporate sponsors that the bridge is a good investment.

The bridge district turned to corporate sponsorship after the bridge closed a $450 million budget shortfall in 2002 to a current five-year shortfall of about $80 million, Currie said. Operators had raised tolls, fares and concession prices to the extent the public would tolerate, but the district was still in debt. The goal is to attract $4 million in corporate revenue during the next five years, Currie said.

Funding landmarks

The Golden Gate Bridge will not be alone when it hits up corporate America for money.

Statue of Liberty

» Supported by the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, founded bythen-Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca in 1982 at the request of then-President Reagan. According to the Web site, the foundation has collected $500 million from individual and corporate donations.

Washington Monument

» A 1996 renovation named Target as the lead sponsor of the National Monument Restoration Project, guaranteeing $1 million, according to the National Park Service. The National Parks Foundation and Target also raised an additional $4 million.

The Smithsonian

» The museums in Washington, D.C., offer corporate memberships. Coca-Cola is listed as the only corporate partner. Mars Inc. is the only corporate leader.

amartin@examiner.com


examiNation question of the day: What do you think of sponsorships for landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge? Join the daily discussion!Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Giants second baseman Donovan Solano scores on a double in the seventh inning against the Dodgers at Oracle Park on July 29. (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
Will the Giants make the playoffs? Kris Bryant may be the answer

By Chris Haft Special to The Examiner You’d be hard-pressed to find… Continue reading

Tiffany Carter, owner of Boug Cali West Coast Creole Shack in San Francisco’s La Cocina Marketplace, was dismayed by gentrification she found when she returned to her hometown to start a business. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
SF Black Wallstreet: Helping residents build wealth, reclaim spaces they’ve had to leave

Tiffany Carter moved back to her hometown of San Francisco five years… Continue reading

A prescribed fire at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks was conducted in June 2016 to reduce hazardous fuel loading, increase watershed health, and restore the natural fire cycle in the Redwood Canyon area ecosystem. (Photo courtesy Rebecca Paterson/National Park Service)
Experts, UC scientists discuss wildfires in the state’s riskiest regions

Wildfires are nothing new in California’s history, but the magnitude and frequencies… Continue reading

Fourth-grade students at Lucerne Valley Elementary School don masks and Western wear for a “Walk Through California” history day during in-person instruction. (Courtesy of Krystal Nelson)
Confusion over mask mandate for California schools sparks tension between districts and parents

By Diana Lambert EdSource Shifting rules around mask mandates at schools are… Continue reading

In his extensive filming of The City during the pandemic, Eric Goodfield said he has been “observing how the environment affects the behavior of people.” (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Filmmaker Eric Goodfield fixes lens on SF’s COVID days

140 days of shooting in The City made for ‘greatest adventure’

Most Read