12:37pm

Wed August 1, 2012
Parks & Rec

Corporate Sponsors For Colorado State Parks

The Foundation for Colorado State Parks, a 501(c)(3) organization, is pioneering an effort to attract corporate sponsors to Colorado's state parks. The proposal is in the early stages of development but officials say it could be implemented by 2013.

Jeff Shoemaker, the Executive Director of The Foundation for Colorado State Parks is quick to point out these partnerships will not include naming rights. That means Chatfield State Park isn't likely to become "Sports Authority Park at Chatfield" any time soon.

"We are not talking about NASCARing state parks."

But Shoemaker says aside from naming rights, everything else is on the table.

At this point, Colorado parks would be open to partnering with anyone in the private sector - a corporation, business or individual. But Shoemaker does have some characteristics of an ideal partner in mind.

"Associations in camping equipment or bikes or boats or whatever that do a lot of business with folks who use state parks and it is our belief would like to have their image, their entity, their product marketed toward users and supports of state parks."

There's also no set rules on whether these partnerships would need be financial or commodity based.

"I never say no to anything. But I would say the ratio of cash versus equipment provided would be 80/20 cash to product and they would probably by high on equipment."

The possibilities seem endless. One aspect that will need to be clarified is how the public can become aware of these partnerships and private investors will be recognized for their contribution. 

Shoemaker says the Foundation for Colorado State Parks' website could, as it does now, display donor names and gift amounts. Another option could be to provide credit on site at the state parks.

Shoemaker says he is likely to want to shy away from on-site signage in order to avoid what he calls "a NASCARing of state parks."

But private investors aren't signing on to partner with Colorado parks just yet. The proposal is still in the early stages of development. Currently, Shoemaker is working to get Coloradans on board by hosting several public forums across the state.

The plan will eventually need to be endorsed by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission and the Colorado Department of Natural Resources before becoming a reality.

"We have not begun to pursue [sponsorships] directly. Based on the feelers we have put out I feel very optimistic and candid that there is a strong interest in creating the relationship that we are talking about. But it's not yet at the point that we are knocking on doors."

Colorado State Parks do not receive money from the state's general fund, but do receive revenue from the Colorado Lottery. Shoemaker says this corporate sponsorship campaign is not a result of budgeting shortfall  among the Colorado's 42 state parks.

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