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.