Philly Searches for a Bike Share Sponsor

Looking for an "emotional investment" in the city.

Next City has a story about the search for a sponsor for Philadelphia’s forthcoming bike share program – a story that starts with the fact that the company in charge of seeking the sponsor, Front Row Marketing Services (a subsidiary of Comcast-Spectacor) —has never done this job before. 

The magazine talked with Front Row’s Bryan Furey:

Named sponsorship of Philly’s bike-share system, says Furey, should go for somewhere in the neighborhood of “seven figures a year,” but to nail down that figure, Front Row is conducting an analysis of the bike-share system’s value to a would-be funder that will be completed in the next few weeks.

Asked if Front Row has enough time to properly set up a lucrative sponsorship package before the 2015 launch, Furey responds with a laugh and “we’ll find out.” He adds, “you never have enough time when you’re selling partnerships of this size, but we certainly hope it’s enough time.” Experience in other contexts tells him it is. “A typical naming rights partnership can be anywhere from six to 18 months of the property being launched.” Still, “we’re going to move quick,” he says, and the ability to do exactly that, he adds, is likely part of why Philadelphia hired Front Row.

For the named sponsor, at the top of the list of consideration, says Furey, are major employers in Philadelphia with “an emotional investment in the city.” The Philadelphia-based Comcast seems a natural fit, but Furey demurs. It’s too early in the process to say anything concrete, he says when asked about Front Row’s parent company parenting Philly’s bike-share, too. “We’ll decide if they should be approached or not,” he says. “I’m sure they’re on the list.”

Citi paid $40 million to sponsor New York’s bike share program for five years; observers say that, given the disparity between the New York and Philly markes, a “low seven-figure “sponsorship is probably the best that can be expected here.