State won't sell Turnpike name

MARK GILLISPIE Associated Press Published:

CLEVELAND -- Fearing a public backlash, the state of Ohio won't be selling naming rights for its 241-mile toll road in the northern part of the state, but will try to raise money through the sales of sponsorships and advertising.

Adam Greenslade, a spokesman for the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission, told The Plain Dealer in Cleveland that selling naming rights as sports teams do for arenas and stadiums would be viewed negatively. However, the state is willing to let companies promote themselves by putting their names on turnpike road signs, trucker lounges, snow plows and pet walking areas.

That advertising is expected to raise several million dollars a year, far less than what naming rights for overpasses, toll plazas and the turnpike itself would generate. A company called Legends Sales & Marketing, which is owned by the New York Yankees and the Dallas Cowboys, will be selling the advertising.

Gov. John Kasich and the state Legislature have found a way to raise far bigger money off the turnpike. There are plans to borrow as much as $3 billion in the coming years against the turnpike's future toll revenue to pay for road projects throughout the state. The majority of the money raised through the bond sales will pay for transportation projects in the northern part of the state. Projects in central and southern Ohio will also be financed through the bond issues.

The turnpike had a $13.6 million budget surplus at the end of 2013 but faces higher costs for materials, labor and other expenses.

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