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District Marketing Program Makes Progress; Trails Goal

Noah Weidner

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January marks the start of the third year of a five-year deal between Kelly Sports Properties and the district to provide partnerships, media guides, and other products and discounts for the four high schools’ athletic programs. Progress is being made to generate revenue, however not at the pace that was anticipated when the deal was originally signed in 2015.

“Certainly we would love to [hit our goal], but right now, we are delayed in that,” Parkway CFO Patty Bedborough said. “To date we have generated $1,025,000 from the deal total.”

The deal between Kelly Sports Properties and Parkway Schools was approved by the Board of Education in 2015 with the intent to both generate revenue for the district’s clubs and athletic programs, and to alleviate perceived future financial burdens on the district.

”“We’re a relatively stable financial district in Parkway; we’re in a pretty good situation,” district athletic director Mike Roth said. “But years down the road: that’s where we’re looking now, as a way to generate outside revenue that we can take back into our school district for athletics and activities.”

To do this, 50 sponsorship slots were offered up, with varying levels and costs according to which level a business signs on to be. However, out of the 50 offerings available, only 11 of them have been filled, according to Roth.

According to the contract, Parkway pays commission on sales to KSP in a tiered system. As Parkway generates more revenue annually, the commission paid to KSP decreases. As of now, Parkway remains at tier one, paying KSP 30 percent in commission. As a result, just over $715,000 has actually benefited the district directly, with the other $300,000 going to KSP.

In order to display sponsorships and promote the district’s athletic programs, the district spent $1.8 million on video scoreboards for their four high schools.

Before money can start going back into athletic and organizational funds, the school board requires the revenue from partnerships to directly pay for these boards. “We’d need at least another million to pay off what we have, and then past that point we’d be able to start giving back to organizations,” Bedborough said.

This is why Roth, in collaboration with KSP, has been working to sign more partners.

“We’re constantly on sales calls, we’ve met with probably over 30 potential partners in the last month or two,” Roth said. “We’re in contact with 20-30 different corporations as we speak.”

Roth notes that last year was the first real year that the contract with KSP was implemented, notably through the creation of print materials and an athletic website for each high school, and the utilization of the scoreboards.

“We’re in our infancy,” Roth said. “It might be year two of the contract, but it’s really kind of starting.”

Roth believes that as the deal gains more momentum and Parkway signs more partners, that more interested parties will want to partner with the district.

“This is definitely not a speedboat, this is a cruise liner,” Roth said. “So it takes time, but I’m confident where we’re at. We’re making progress, and that’s what we wanted.”

Despite the progress, coaches note that they have yet to see a real impact in the funds coming into their programs as they expected based on meetings with KSP at the start of the contract. As a result, coaches and their athletes are still having to turn to fundraisers to adequately support their programs.

“I’m going to be coaching my 39th year,” track and field coach Steve Warren said. “The actual team budgets haven’t changed that much. The amount of money I was given back in the late 70’s and early 80’s and 90’s is about as much as we’re getting now.”

A reason Parkway signed with KSP for the sports marketing program was the success noted in Columbia (Mo.) Public Schools. CPS generated $680,000 in profit for its athletic programs after paying for two scoreboards costing $324,000. Overall, CPS netted $1.15 million.

Even with this success, at the end of CPS’ five-year contract with KSP, the administration transitioned to an in-house marketing program.

“While we are not yet certain we will be managing more affordably at year end, we do know we are managing the program in a way that is better received from partners, parents and coaches,” Columbia CFO Linda Quinley said. “This program is about relationships with your community partners, which include families. The direct connection to them when using our staff to manage the program is a positive one.”

Parkway has three years left in its contract with KSP to evaluate its success. Even if the district has not generated the revenue originally projected by this point, administrators are confident that the deal is good for the district.

“I think it is good for Parkway, I think it’s good for our Parkway community, our student athletes, our parents, and I support it 100 percent,” Roth said. “You never know what your struggles or trials and tribulations will be, but I think this will ease the financial burden down the road.”

KSP did not respond to requests for comment.

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District Marketing Program Makes Progress; Trails Goal