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Metro will allow corporate sponsors to buy naming rights to its stations

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Now arriving at Diet Dr. Pepper and Vermont Station


Metro riders might soon find themselves boarding a MetroPCS train from a Subway platform. Corporate sponsorships are on their way to Metro lines and stations in a move that could bring in millions for the transit agency.

Metro’s governing board adopted a plan last week to sell the naming rights to corporate sponsors, reports KPCC. The Corporate Sponsorship/Naming Rights Program allows Metro to partner with marketing firms that will connect it with potential sponsors.

It appears the entire Metro map is up for grabs. Metro marketing executive Glen Becerra told the Long Beach Press Telegram, “what we are looking at are all stations, all lines.”

Supporters of the move point to the necessity of finding and embracing new revenue streams for Metro moving forward. Metro spokeswoman Kim Upton likens the transit agency’s “constant need for funding” to a human being’s need for food. "It's like eating,” Upton told KPCC, “you have to eat to survive."

The strategy of cozying up to corporate sponsors was not unanimously applauded by all members of Metro’s board. Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin and county Supervisor Sheila Kuehl both cast their votes against adopting the program. Kuehl calls the program “inappropriate,” and told the Press Telegram the new policy “is all about products, advertising and nothing but making money no matter what.”

Talking to KPCC, Bonin called the program “crazy” and mused, “is the Expo/Bundy stop gonna be the Burger King stop?”

Metro officials say geographic location will take precedent when naming stations, and Upton says Metro isn’t going to “just put anything on a station, not for any amount of money.”

There are also safeguards in place to prevent the creation of a “Bud Light Raz-Ber-Ita Line” or “Trump/Wilshire” station. A Metro staff report on the sponsorship program lays out the businesses that cannot obtain naming rights:

Business entities in the following categories will not be considered for participation: Alcohol; Tobacco and Electronic Cigarettes; Adult Entertainment and Content; Arms/Guns and Weapons; Political Parties, Political Groups, Political Organizations, and Political Candidates or Campaigns; Religious Groups and Religious Associations.