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Carolina moved a step closer to the possibility of advertising signage in the University’s largest sports stadiums in late July when the Board of Trustees authorized the chancellor to determine the best way to handle the issue of revenue enhancement for the athletics department.
The trustees’ decision came after its University Affairs Committee voted unanimously to recommend to the full board that “limited and tasteful” signs in Kenan Stadium and the Smith Center be permitted.
Last year, for the first time in 15 years, the athletics department helped the Educational Foundation, or Rams Club, absorb a shortfall of about $300,000 in its funds to pay for scholarships. Athletics Director Dick Baddour ’66 said the estimated deficit for the next school year is $500,000 to $600,000. Tuition increases have been cited for the rise in scholarship costs.
revenue. The task force endorsed the idea in May.
UNC is one of a few U.S. universities that have not allowed permanent advertising in their major athletics venues; at UNC, it is currently allowed in Carmichael Auditorium, Boshamer Stadium and Fetzer Field. So-called “soft advertising” has been a staple at events in the past, including commercial spots run on video boards and signs held up by cheerleaders in promotional events during timeouts.
But trustees Chair Richard “Stick” Williams ’75 said more permanent signage in Kenan and the Smith Center may not be the only solution.
“Signage can be a part of it, but it’s not necessarily a part of it,” Williams said. He explained that the charge to Chancellor James Moeser includes looking at other options, whatever those might be. He said he expected that companies would be asked to “be creative and make recommendations.”
Williams said that instead of just saying, “We want signs,” those interested in working with the University might propose something that others haven’t done before. He emphasized the reputation and integrity of UNC and said providers would be asked to determine “the value of a relationship with The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.”
Baddour has said that he would rather not have permanent signage but that the financial needs may overshadow that desire. “My preference is not to go in this direction, but I have a stronger preference to maintain” the athletics programs, Baddour said when the task force made its recommendation.
Advertisements could appear in the 2005-06 academic year, Baddour said.
Trustee John Ellison ’69, a member of the Rams Club and the task force, said such advertising should be “as unobtrusive as possible.” The aesthetics of the sports venues are important, he noted, and he added that the task force preferred that the stadium floors remain free of ad messages.
Ellison said he hopes that additional signage at UNC will be more limited than at some schools.
Associate Athletics Director Norwood Teague ’88 said signage could produce $600,000 to $1 million in annual revenue for athletics, depending on the quantity and location of ads.
Diane Joyce ’88, finance director and general counsel for the Rams Club, said that given projections of continued tuition increases, the club expects shortfalls to go up each year.