SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Attorneys for the private Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation are exploring the legal issue of whether the group has authority over state fair naming rights.
The foundation is waiting on an opinion from the governor’s legal office as to whether it gets Illinois State Fair naming rights or if it needs approval from the state Legislature, said John Slayton, the foundation’s chairman.
In the meantime, the foundation plans to continue fundraising efforts, Slayton told The State Journal-Register (http://bit.ly/2rsSIHF ).
“We have four or five conversations going,” Slayton said. “Personally, I don’t see a problem with naming rights if it’s going to pay for construction and repairs.”
The foundation hopes to raise $3 million to $5 million a year to pay for improvements, he said.
Discussions with potential sponsors for the fairgrounds continue, including for the iconic Coliseum in Springfield that’s been closed since October due to safety concerns.
Private foundations fundraising in Iowa and Oklahoma have been cited as potential models for Illinois State Fair naming rights and sponsorships.
“Ours was pretty clear-cut, as we are part of the Iowa Code for the Iowa State Fair Authority, which runs the fair,” said Robin Taylor, assistant director of the Blue Ribbon Foundation. “The whole intent of our creation was to raise money and, if you don’t offer a pretty major benefit, you aren’t going to receive the major funding need to rehab a facility like the fairgrounds.”
Information from: The State Journal-Register, http://www.sj-r.com