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SBD/February 20, 2013/Facilities
FAU Inks Stadium Naming-Rights Deal With Prison Company The GEO Group
Published February 20, 2013
GRAY AREA: In N.Y., Greg Bishop writes the announcement perhaps “pushed stadium naming to its zenith, if only because the GEO Group is a private prison corporation.” There is “no obvious precedent" for this partnership. FAU President Mary Jane Saunders described the deal as “wonderful” and the company as “well run.” But it also “left some unsettled, including those who study the business of sports and track the privatization of the prison industry.” To those critics, this “was a jarring case of the lengths colleges and teams will go to produce revenue.” Univ. of Oregon Warsaw Sports Marketing Center Dir Paul Swangard said, “This is an example of great donor intent, terrible execution.” Grassroots Leadership Exec Dir Bob Libal, whose social justice group opposes private prison systems, said, “It’s like calling something Blackwater Stadium. This is a company whose record is marred by human rights abuses, by lawsuits, by unnecessary deaths of people in their custody and a whole series of incidents that really draw into question their ability to successfully manage a prison facility.” The company has “been opposed by civil liberty and human rights groups and immigrant rights organizations.” It also has “been cited by state and federal regulators and lost a series of high-profile lawsuits.” A GEO Group spokesperson in an e-mail wrote, “We have always adhered to the highest standards in our industry.” Saunders was asked if FAU “had looked into the allegations against the GEO Group.” She said, “We think it’s a wonderful company, and we’re very proud to partner with them” (N.Y. TIMES, 2/20).
WHAT IS THE DEAL'S END GAME? YAHOO SPORTS’ Frank Schwab wondered, “What's the upside for a prison company putting its name on a stadium? … We doubt FAU fans are going to want to end up in GEO Group prisons as a result of the sponsorship” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 2/19).