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For San Diego's billionaires, megamillionaires, and the corporations they love, renaming public real estate has long been a hallowed tradition.

Qualcomm, founded by La Jolla Democrat Irwin Jacobs, has its name on the stadium in Mission Valley — also known for a time in 2011 as "Snapdragon" stadium, a quick switch in moniker engineered by then-mayor Jerry Sanders that was later proclaimed illegal by city attorney Jan Goldsmith.

Last year, Qualcomm struck again, lobbying to have UCSD's "California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology" (or “CalIT2,” for short) redesignated as the "Qualcomm Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, the UC San Diego Division of CalIT2."

No cash changed hands in that deal, justified by university officials as belated recognition for prior corporate donations.

Voluble U-T publisher and GOP real estate magnate Douglas Manchester — who was Jacobs's political nemesis when the pair waged a big-money proxy battle last year to put their respective brands on San Diego's new mayor — cut his naming-rights deal with San Diego State University.

"The proposed renaming of Centennial Hall to Manchester Hall recognizes a $5 million gift from Douglas F. Manchester and Elizabeth C. Manchester to San Diego State University," according to the minutes of a November 2005 meeting of the California University System's board of trustees. “The gift will provide support for campus priorities, the golf program and undergraduate faculty support."

There have not been as many opportunities for those of fewer means to buy their way into public notoriety, but that may soon change, according to a May 20 "request for information" posted online by county parks director John Pellegrino.

"The County of San Diego Parks and Recreation Department is now offering naming rights opportunities for existing park amenities including ball fields, playgrounds, staging areas, sports arenas, amphitheaters, swimming pools, community gardens, community rooms, and trails," reads the document.

Names of whole parks won't be available, the notice says, but almost everything else is up for grabs.

"We recognize diversifying our funding sources is instrumental in helping to meet the future needs of the communities we serve, and that naming partnerships provide an opportunity to reinforce the image of a community minded organization, individual or business to demonstrate their support for community investments."

"Pricing for naming rights begins at $1,000 and will depend on the value of the amenity such as location, use, visibility, construction, cost, and more. The Department conducted industry and nationwide research on private and public sectors naming right programs to establish benchmarks for the proposed policy."

According to the solicitation for would-be namees, Pellegrino "now has the authority to approve naming of park amenities that are for a 5-year term or that will result in $15,000 or less in total revenue for the naming term, unless otherwise designated by the Board. The Board of Supervisors will still have the authority to name county buildings and facilities."

A sampling of proposed prices includes $10,000 to name splash parks for five years, and $16,000 for community rooms.

Those with deeper pockets may choose from a variety of trails, including those at San Elijo Lagoon and San Dieguito, for a five-year term priced from $20,000 to $50,000.

Notes the fine print: “Trails eligible for naming rights will include existing [department of Park & Recreation] trails in County Parks. Naming of new trails will be negotiated based on capital contributions. Regional trails and already named DPR trails will not be included in this program."

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CaptainObvious June 6, 2014 @ 1:05 p.m.

Has anyone figured out the cost of changing maps to keep up with the namings? What if emergency services didn't get the memo and don't know where to go? Just pick one name for each location and stick with it. Let the rich buy benches and fountains.


dwbat June 6, 2014 @ 1:37 p.m.

The ball fields, playgrounds, staging areas, sports arenas, amphitheaters, swimming pools, etc. will still have the same addresses.


monaghan June 6, 2014 @ 2:10 p.m.

I think those parents of the late murdered teenager Chelsea King who are featured so often in GOP election advertising on television (Nathan Fletcher, Bonnie Dumanis) ought to jump at this chance to re-name the park where their daughter met her tragic end.

It would be commercial and tacky, but not as commercial and tacky as their continued presence in political election season here, even though they live in Connecticut.


ScottSD June 9, 2014 @ 7:36 p.m.

Philanthropy is a good thing. It is too bad San Diego told Jacobs to take a hike. He diverted all of his hard earned money to endeavors up north. This city would be far worse off culturally if not for philanthropy in its early days. Government does not have to pay for everything.


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