MTA Sells Subway Station Names

June 24th, 2009

How about ads for pork rinds on the cop cars?

The MTA officially has sold naming rights to one of its busiest subway stations in Brooklyn. That means McDonald’s 42nd Street and Taco Bell 59th Street-Columbus Circle could be right around the corner — or not.

Sell the name of a station to an advertiser: It’s a business strategy the cash-strapped agency has been developing for years. But no one has been willing to pay up until now.

Strangely enough, it’s a London-based bank that wants first dibs on subway stops at Atlantic Avenue/Pacific Street transit hub. If a $4 million deal gets approved today, all of the subway stations at a busy Brooklyn hub will have Barclays added to their names, according to The New York Times.

Why does a British bank with a Manhattan office want its name on Crooklyn subway stations? Barclays Center, the sports stadium intended to be the center of the Atlantic Yards project, will be finished in the next few years. And Atlantic Yards’ developer Forest City Ratner offered the MTA $200,000 annually over the next two decades to change the name of the second most bustling station in Brooklyn to reflect the focal point of its $4.9-billion project.

If one company can buy rights to change the name of subway stations, a New Yorker might ask, what’s next? Coca-Cola 59th Street-Lex? Pepsi 5th Avenue-53rd?

Either and more could be on the horizon if the MTA has its way. In the past, subway stations used to be named based on where they were located, but the MTA is jumping on the chance to raise revenue for the transit system by allowing advertisers to buy in.

“It’s always a question of balancing our need for revenue and our stewardship of public space,” MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin told the Times.

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