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Auto dealer speeds to deal for naming rights of Bedford field

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Ted Magrum

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TEMPERANCE -- A long-time Toledo-area car dealership is close to inking a deal with Bedford Schools to purchase the naming rights for the football field at Bedford Community Stadium .

The proposal with Grogan's Towne on Telegraph Road calls for the company to give $264,000 over 12 years to the school district.

School officials, who discussed the proposal at last week's committee of the whole meeting, said the money would be put toward the district's $30,000 annual obligation to pay off the debt on the stadium.

It was completed in 1997 at a cost of about $1.8 million.

Superintendent Ted Magrum said the naming rights money, along with payments from the Alumni Association, would erase the interest and principal on the loan by the end of the 12-year agreement.

The stadium would retain the "Bedford Community" name on it. The naming rights would only apply to the actual playing field.

The proposal calls for Grogan's Towne to make $2,000 monthly payments for 10 years and $1,000 monthly payments in the 11th and 12th years.

Under the pact, the dealership's name would be displayed on the home and visitors ticket booths, the wall under the scoreboard, and visitors bleachers.

Mr. Magrum said a semiexclusivity clause in the agreement stipulates the district can't have another auto dealer advertising in the stadium. "However, other businesses could have advertisements in the stadium," he said.

The naming will require action by the board, and district policy requires that it have two readings by the Board of Education before a vote is taken.

Mr. Magrum said citizens can address the issue during public comment time at board meetings.

School officials said they hope to have the name change approved well before the first home game in September, when the Mules will host Whitmer High School.

Denny Amrhein, managing partner of Grogan's and Charlie's Dodge in Maumee, said his dealership approached the school district last year.

He viewed it as both a goodwill gesture and marketing tool.

"We do a lot business out of the Bedford Township and Temperance area," Mr. Amrhein said. "We wanted to come up with a deal that made sense for both of us."

The name-rights deal with Bedford Schools' stadium would be the first such agreement the dealership has made for an athletic facility.

"I think it will be good for everyone," he said.

Chuck Faller, president of the alumni association, said his group will continue to give money as part of its commitment to pay off the stadium.

"The name rights will not pay off the whole debt on the stadium. The alumni association will continue to raise money to help pay off the stadium," he said.

At the committee meeting, the board learned the school district is in negotiations with two parties that want to buy the building housing the Bedford Educational Child Care Center on Sterns Road.

Mr. Magrum was given the nod from the board to continue talks with real estate agents representing prospective buyers.

"We think this, given the economy and the market for commercial buildings, I think we have the opportunity for positive effect. It will be a lease-purchase, with the purchasing occurring after five years," Mr. Magrum said.

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