Florida Atlantic U. Names Football Stadium after Private Prison Company

Friday, February 22, 2013
Mary Jane Saunders

Florida Atlantic University has taken the business of selling stadium-naming rights to a whole new place by cutting a deal with a private prison operator.

 

When the school’s sports teams take the field, they will do so inside GEO Group Stadium, named after the company that operates prisons for profit.

 

The university’s leadership, naturally, hailed the sale, which will net Florida Atlantic $6 million. The gift, which will be spread over 12 years, represented the largest ever for the university’s athletic program. FAU President Mary Jane Saunders issued a statement that “This gift is a true representation of The GEO Group’s incredible generosity to FAU and the community it serves.”

 

The deal came together thanks to a longstanding relationship between the university and the company’s CEO, George Zoley. Zoley is an alumnus of the school, and previously chaired its board of trustees. GEO Group is based in Boca Raton, Florida as is Florida Atlantic.

 

Opponents of private prisons were not pleased with the news of the stadium sponsorship and have launched a petition drive against the deal.

 

“It’s startling to see a stadium will be named after them,” Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, a social justice group that opposes private prison systems, told The New York Times. “It’s like calling something Blackwater Stadium. This is a company whose record is marred by human rights abuses, by lawsuits, by unnecessary deaths of people in their custody and a whole series of incidents that really draw into question their ability to successfully manage a prison facility.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff

 

To Learn More:

A Company That Runs Prisons Will Have Its Name on a Stadium (by Greg Bishop, New York Times)

Controversial FAU Stadium Sponsor, GEO Group, Leads to Petition for School to Drop It (Sporting News)

Private Prison Company Muscles into Law Enforcement, Creating Occupants for Its Prisons (by Matt Bewig)

Comments

Simon Eissen 1 year ago
There is something very sick in the very idea of putting prisons into the hands of a for profit business. For one thing is the state then on the hook to GUARANTEE a minimum level of prisoners? Will the state be paying the company for unused beds and cells if the prison population falls too low? A prison management company's sole customer is the state. All the company's revenue comes from the taxpayers. So for the company to spend anything on promoting itself is a use of taxpayer dollars. It should be illegal for a state subcontractor to spend money for promotion rather than rebating that money back to the state.

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