Council to consider new sign policy at complex
The signs became an issue in September when a new soccer club, the Rock Soccer Club, sold a sponsorship to a soccer field to raise money. The Rock Soccer Club was formed in 2007 and leases the six soccer fields from the city.
The club received permission from the Youth Sports Coalition to remove the Damron family sign, which also included the name of a former soccer club. The club president said nobody indicated there were agreements with earlier donors. Rock Soccer Club then sold limited sponsorship rights to another sponsor, whose sign now is on the field.
Vicki Damron said she had been under the impression that her $6,000 donation a decade ago had given the family naming rights to a field.
Two city council members agreed with Damron and asked city staff to come back with a solution and a policy that would regulate signs at the complex.
Rebecca Smith, management assistant with the city, said that when the complex was started, residents and businesses were solicited to provide money to develop the fields. The YMCA and Janesville Youth Football also lease fields there.
Wooden signs were placed next to the fields to recognize their contributions, she said.
“Staff could find no documentation that those signs were meant to be installed forever or that there are any guidelines/restrictions established when the signs were first put in place,” Smith said.
The new policy would regulate future signs so they are consistent in style and kept in good condition.
The policy also would allow the city to advertise on city-funded buildings. The other groups could advertise on their fields or on any building paid for by those groups.
The policy specifies that a bronze plaque be installed on the pavilion/restroom building to recognize the 16 original field donators and be big enough to accommodate future donors. The groups would pay for the plaque with advertising profits.
Neither the YMCA nor Janesville Youth Football plan to replace donor signs at their fields, Smith said. The YMCA said it has agreements with the initial donors for lifetime field-naming rights. The YMCA signs are in poor condition, however, and it will begin raising money for new signs.
The Y has said it might advertise in the future, she said.
Youth football does not have any plans for new signs or advertising.
Council member Russ Steeber during a recent meeting recalled the flurry of fundraising when the sports complex was built.
While the first soccer club no longer exists, that shouldn’t change the good-faith effort to raise the funds, he said.
Damron said she still believes the commitment was a covenant with the city and that her family’s sign would stay there forever just like the football and Y signs.
“And, now, apparently it’s been broken,” she said.
But Damron said she would be OK with a plaque on the pavilion.