A few months ago, the MTA unveiled the details of its first subway station naming rights contract. For $200,000 a year over 20 years, Barclays will attach its name to the Atlantic Ave./Pacific St. stop. Once — or if — the new Nets arena opens at that location, the station will become Barclays Center/Atlantic Ave./Pacific St. It is geographically accurate, if a bit unwieldy, and we all know that the MTA needs the cash.
Additionally, we’ve often discussed expanding the MTA’s economic horizons by instituting an Adopt-a-Station program. Similar to the Adopt-a-Highway program in place across the nation, local businesses would pay to get their names on the station. These businesses could then be responsible for ensuring the cleanliness of subway stations or the money could go toward renovation and rehabilitation projects at that station. It is an unorthodox call, to be sure, but not out of the realm of the ordinary.
In fact, that is just what the Chicago Transit Authority may do. According to a CTA spokesperson, Apple and the Windy City’s transit authority are in talks to have the computer giant sponsor a station rehab. Lewis Lazare of the Chicago Sun-Times reports:
A CTA spokeswoman confirmed that the transit authority is in talks with the computer and iPhone behemoth about a deal that could net the cash-strapped CTA as much as $4 million in funding from Apple to pay for an upgrade of the run-down subway station at North and Clybourn, which is adjacent to an Apple retail store now under construction and expected to open next year.
In exchange for its millions, Apple would receive first dibs on any and all advertising that eventually goes up at the rehabbed subway stop, which would allow Apple to create what is known as a “station domination” advertising effect at the North and Clybourn station.
According to Lazare’s report, the funding deal would not include naming rights. Chicago is not yet ready to turn over the names of their El stops to private corporations.
For Chicago, a deal of this nature makes perfect sense. The CTA is in worse financial straits than the MTA and has recently proposed massive service cuts and a 30 percent fare hike. They desperately need any money they can get.
So again, though, I propose this idea for New York. At some point, the MTA should seriously considering looking at local business investment in subway stations. The agency’s new modular approach to station rehabilitation and component replacement is a bid step in the right direction and helps alleviate the nearly unattainable State of Good Repair for the system’s stations. With a little bit of creativity, the money though is out there, and we need not look further than Chicago and to Apple for proof.