I’ve followed the ongoing saga of Metea Valley High School and the “Legend of Brach-Brodie” for some time now as both a Naperville insider, a father of two boys and an Indian Prairie District 204 resident.
First, I believe very strongly that the Brach-Brodie land is the proper location of the new high school. Yet, as we all know, during condemnation proceedings the court ruled in favor of a per acre price which, in total, is roughly $17,000,000 more than the amount Distict 204 budgeted in the referendum.
Many concerns and opinions have been raised and I’ve listened closely to the discussion. The bottom-line is its time to come together as a community to put our heads together, to think outside the box and find a way to make this situation work.
As a marketer who has worked the majority of his career in the not-for-profit world, the first possible alternative comes in the form of corporate sponsorships. If it be a football stadium, a pool, an auditorium, or all the above the district could work with a professional sponsorship consultant, such as IEG (www.sponsorship.com), to determine not only the short-term and long-term valuation of specific sponsorship properties but also to evaluate potential prospects. Packages which include everything from naming rights to multi-year strategic partnerships could be developed to offset what, in the grand scheme of things, is not an insumountable sum of money. Besides, given the high visibility of Naperville and its accompanying demographics, such a sponsorship investment could be fairly attractive.
For anyone concerned about the mixture of corporate interests and education, fear not. The nature of these “good corporate citizen” relationships are more about brand positioning/co-branding opportunities and less about high-pressure direct sales. In other words, corporate sponsors want you to develop positive sustainable thoughts about their brand, rather than rush in for a quick sale. Corporate sponsorships are all about positioning and building long-term relationships.
Aside from corporate sponsorships, why not consider a large donor fundraising campaign to raise capital funds much in the same way the arts and arts facilities have achieved its mission over the years. With the passion and financial strength within this community, certainly there are donor prospects out there who might step forward to build their own legacy in a big way. Academic, arts and sports facilities alike could be offered up as fundraising targets for donors. Perhaps the campaign consists of a low-dollar and high-dollar component to give any member of the community an opportunity to make a gift.
Consider the alternatives of an additional tax referendum, redrawing boundaries, abandoning plans or building a high school without comparable amenities and the sponsorship and fundraising angles start to look even better. I invite your comments. SM