Wikimedia Commons

Some naming rights just aren't worth it.

Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton announced last week a deal to sell the naming rights to its football stadium, a not-uncommon solution for universities and cities everywhere looking to pay off expensive infrastructure (come to think of it, the naming rights for just about anything are up for grabs these days).

The new name for the Owls’ two-year-old, $70 million home football field? GEO Group Stadium, which sounds innocuous enough. That’s got to be a consulting firm or a private equity group. Right? Here is how the university introduced the company in its accompanying press release last week:

The GEO Group is the first fully integrated equity real estate investment trust specializing in the design, financing, development, and operation of correctional, detention, and community reentry facilities around the globe.

GEO Group is a private prison conglomerate, a business that would seem somewhat incompatible with the goals of a public university (it also seems particularly incompatible with the desired image of college football, which works mightily hard to disassociate its athletes from police lineups).

Students on the campus, not surprisingly, are protesting the move. And we can think of at least three reasons why they should be ticked. We’re hard-pressed to imagine any piece of public infrastructure – campus buildings, bridges, bus stops – that would reasonably be named after a private prison company. This private prison company has also been accused of violating human rights. And – the final rub – it’s not even offering the university that much money. The “gift” is worth $6 million… to be paid over 12 years. That sum would barely buy you one season from a top-notch coach in college football today.

Infrastructure naming rights are often a touchy topic. But this would probably be a good rule of thumb: Avoid associating yourself with the prison-industrial complex, even if the donor is an alum.

Top image: Jerseydem/Wikimedia Commons

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. photo: An elderly resident of a village in Japan's Gunma Prefecture.
    Life

    In Japan’s Vanishing Rural Towns, Newcomers Are Wanted

    Facing declining birthrates and rural depopulation, hundreds of “marginal villages” could vanish in a few decades. But some small towns are fighting back.

  2. photo: Chilean police clash with anti-government demonstrators during a protest in Santiago, Chile.
    Equity

    What’s Behind the Wave of Urban Protests?

    The slums of the world’s growing cities have become staging grounds for demonstrations against corruption, inequality, and municipal dysfunction.

  3. Equity

    Bernie Sanders and AOC Unveil a Green New Deal for Public Housing

    The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act would commit up to $180 billion over a decade to upgrading 1.2 million federally owned homes.

  4. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.
    Equity

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

  5. Communal space at classroom in Espoo, Finland.
    Design

    Why Finland Is Embracing Open-Plan School Design

    The country’s educational successes are undeniable, but simply demolishing school walls alone won’t necessarily replicate them.

×