Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Has Found No Takers For Corporate Sponsor Program

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In July, reeling from state budget cuts, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department came up with a surefire way to make a bit of extra scratch: corporate sponsorships.

The proposal didn't include naming rights -- no British Petroleum State Park at Galveston Island, for example -- but companies who paid at least $100,000 could get their name and logo prominently displayed on plaques, press releases, agency publications and elsewhere.

Darcy Bontempo, TDWP's marketing director, told Unfair Park at the time that she was confident the program would be a success. The agency had long been approached by companies interested in sponsorships, but "we've never been able to offer this kind of suite of benefits before."

Her optimism seems to have been premature. The Austin American-Statesman reports this morning that the program has attracted exactly zero bites since it was rolled out six months ago.

It wasn't for lack of trying: The department contacted the 2,267 vendors on its standard bidding list -- but the vendors were interested in selling something to the department, not giving it money. A department intern spent the summer contacting marketing directors at 750 companies -- such as Yahoo! and Southern Living magazine -- but those folks were chiefly interested in offering the department special deals on advertising.

Bontempo blamed the program's slow start on restrictive state procurement rules designed to create a level playing field for vendors seeking to win a contract to sell things to the government. Those rules prohibit, among other things, one-on-one contact between companies and employees of a state agency.

"It's not consistent with how [potential sponsors] normally do business," Bontempo told the Statesman. "You couldn't negotiate in the best interests of both parties."

The agency has amended its rules in an attempt to circumvent the obstacle, allowing employees to negotiate corporate partnerships and licensing agreements without a competitive bidding process upon approval by the executive director. So, the idea's not dead yet.

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13 comments
DeathBreath
DeathBreath

It is time for Corporate America to step up to the plate.  Instead of Mother Neff State Park, doesn't Preparation H State Park sound more inviting? 

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

You can make a state parks donation when you renew your auto registration; it's easy -   And yes Lil' Ricky God of Goodhair is a snake oil salesman of the highest order

mstylr
mstylr

This article has been linked on thejavelina.com

bifftannen
bifftannen

I buy two park passes a year. I don't use them when I visit a park, I still pay to get in. 

Storm_71
Storm_71

Hey we could use the "rainy day fund" to help TPWD...................Oh wait Rick Perry is still the governor sorry.

sidewalkastro
sidewalkastro

We do need no stinking state parks, I say concrete all of it over. Who need nature when you have your face in front of a computer screen all day. 

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Darcy should consult with Jennifer Sprague--Jenn's not too busy right now and a self-proclaimed marketing maven.

ruddski
ruddski topcommenter

You'd think the insurance companies, flush with all the cash Obama is sending their way, might pony up.

NewsDog
NewsDog

Let me crank up the old Ronco soap box blower...

The state legislature has been steadily cutting the budget for TPWD for too long now. They say that TPWD should have to earn their keep while also saying they think it is more important that kids in public schools think Jesus might have ridden a T-Rex rather than maintain large public spaces for enjoyment. I have spent a good deal of time in various parks all over the State and it's sad to think how they are going to rot.

The budget cuts have really hit the Game Wardens hard as well. Their jobs have gone from actively enforcing game laws to trying to raise enough revenue to keep their jobs alive by citing for the slightest infraction.

Buying a license even if you don't hunt or fish is a good idea. I have held a Lifetime Combination Hunting and Fishing license for 21 years now but I still buy some stamps to help various programs.

I could go on and on but I really need to get back to work.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

I, personally, find that terribly sad.  Corporations trip all over each other to spend millions on naming a sports venue, but when it comes to a social or environmental cause all you hear are the crickets.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz then buy a Super-Combo hunting & fishing license ($68).  

Texas issues over one million hunting licenses alone.  I think fishing might even be more popular. But if you want to help, buy a license even if you don't hunt or fish, or just visit (and pay) one of the state parks.

I haven't reviewed the ways and means of the TP&W budget, so I don't know if the revenue generated by licensing is dedicated to the maintenance facilities and game/fish management however, don't you agree that staying within a budget is a good thing?

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@holmantx @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz  

The revenue from the licenses is supposedly earmarked for certain parts of TP&W's programs.  Unfortunately, Li'l ricky and his pals have sequestered the funds in order for them to claim "NO NEW TAXES!!!!!".

The other sad aspect is that if TP&W were to obtain money from a sponsorship, it is unlikely that it would actually raise the amount of money in TP&W's budget as, once again, Li'l Ricky and his friends will go: "Look, you just got $1,000,000 from those sponsorships, so we are going to reduce your budget allocation from the general revenue fund by $1,000,000."

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