published Sunday, April 26th, 2009

Lovell Field naming rights could boost airport revenues

Audio clip

Christina Siebold

  • photo
    Staff File Photo by Tim Barber The terminal and surrounding areas of the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport

Could there be a BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Field in Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport’s future?

A proposed marketing plan by UTC students suggests the airport consider giving a corporate name to Lovell Field, such as BlueCross, to help generate more advertising income for the airport.

“It would be naming rights like for a baseball field,” said Zachary Beker, a University of Tennessee at Chattanooga senior and part of the team of marketing students who worked on the plan.

Airport spokeswoman Christina Siebold said it’s early in the research phase, but officials believe there are a number of local companies that could find value in having their name attached to the air field.

“It’s something that airports across the country are starting to look at,” she said. “We’re looking at all the options.”

Still, Ms. Siebold said officials aren’t close yet to arriving at a dollar figure related to awarding naming rights.

Lovell Field is named after deceased Chattanoogan John Lovell, who in 1917 helped create the city’s Aeronautics Committee. He is described in Jim Fulbright’s Aviation History of Tennessee as “the father of Chattanooga aviation.”

The students’ ideas will be evaluated as the airport puts together its marketing strategy for the upcoming budget year, Ms. Siebold said.

The aim is to better diversify the airport’s revenue stream and not depend so much on the airlines, she said.

“That market is so cyclical,” Ms. Siebold said. “When we look at advertising revenue, we recognize that it is a valuable demographic for a lot of local businesses.”

The students’ plan included an array of suggestions:

n Offering lap trays to airport patrons because of a lack of work space in the seating areas of the terminal.

The lap trays could slide on the armrests of chairs and have a clear removable cover, under which businesses could advertise.

n Recruit EPB to place an oversized model of a light switch to inform travelers of the power distributor’s community contributions along with energy saving tips.

n Attract a company such as La-Z-Boy to sponsor a seating area in baggage claim. It could consist of multiple La-Z-Boy loveseats and recliners, along with company brochures and other advertising so airport users would know who provided the display.

n The terminal’s large front atrium could offer space for corporate displays. The plan suggested a landscape business such as Appalachian Land Design could provide flowers, trees and even a small waterfall at the bottom of a staircase.

Diane Halstead, UTC’s Mary Harris distinguished professor of entreneurship, said the work permitted students to practice what they’ve learned in the classroom.

“They looked specifically at advertising that the airport could offer,” she said.

Andrea Bart, a senior marketing major, cited the potential use of dual monitor TV displays in the baggage claim area.

Two flat screen, 42-inch televisions placed back to back could offer Chattanooga businesses an opportunity to advertise in 15- or 30-second clips and maximize airport revenue.

The plan suggested selling advertising time on the airport’s intercom system, which now just plays music.

Also, the plan mentioned selling ad space on the airport’s Web site and in its restrooms.

Additionally, when more airport capital is available, interactive 3-D wall displays could work, the plan said, along with touch screen welcome centers and kiosks.

about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

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KWVeteran said...

Commercialization of this sort is a slippery slope. Perceived intially as a revenue enhancement, commercial naming of public entities can lead to potential embarrassment of the city involved (aka, Nashville and its football stadium). Increased revenue is a short lived happiness that is quickly used and forgotten as it is absorbed into everyday expenses of living. Did the last tax increase by a government ever satiate the powers that are? No, renaming the airport for the reasons visualized in the article is the wrong thing to do.

April 26, 2009 at 9:25 a.m.
commentary said...

KWVeteran - firstly, than you for your service to our country.

I don't really disagree with you, but do remember the context of the article. This was a compilation of ideas / suggestions that UTC marketing students had for generating potential revenue for the airport. I am glad that the students and their professors were out examining real world scenarios to generate realistic possibilities in their constantly-evolving field, versus simply making thier way through a textbook. I probably disagree with more of their suggestions than I agree with (I don't like the over-commercialization we already experience), but I applaud their efforts and am encouraged by their creativity, even if I disagree with their implementation.

April 26, 2009 at 9:43 a.m.
GoMocs57 said...

When a building/road/stadium is named in memorium for a person, that should be left forever. To remove the name and use a corporate name is an insult to the memory of the person involved. Do not rename Lovell Field. Now, if you want to name the airport after a corporation that would be a different matter, just be careful and choose wisely.

Cities/schools/states/etc should take using a person's name in memorium very seriously. Obviously the people who were involved in the original naming of Lovell Field felt very strongly about it. Those people are no longer around to defend their viewpoint.

By renaming a building/street/complex for money, that was named in memorium to a corporate name, aren't you effectively almost selling the soul of the person who was memorialized?

Leave it Lovell Field. Chattanooga Bellsouth Airport, ATT Chattanooga Airport, UNUM Airport, who cares? But leave it Lovell Field.

April 26, 2009 at 2:48 p.m.
streetsmart said...

If Chattanooga wants to improve Lovell field , Customer relations would be the best starting point. I recently flew out on U S Airways & Delta. With connecting flights in Charlotte and Atlanta.My final destination was Ft. Wayne. The U S Airways rep and the Delta rep in Chattanooga were both extremely rude and did not seem to want to assist me at all. This being my firt time to fly in several years I was beginning to worry about my other connections . Fortunately , the people I encontered at the other connections were both professional and very helpful and my fears were unfounded. Next time I will shuttle to & from Atlanta and skip Lovell field all together.

April 27, 2009 at 8:25 a.m.
Oz said...

How about Volkswagon Regional for $50 million.

April 27, 2009 at 9:31 p.m.
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