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Springboro firm taking step toward gaining naming rights from hospital

The Springboro Board of Education on Thursday is to consider a contract with Watkins Heating & Cooling for naming rights at the football stadium, to be known as CareFlight Field at Watkins Stadium.

But the company hopes to one day shorten that to Watkins Stadium, Vice President David Watkins said on Wednesday.

The pending contract and a resolution for bonding for the project calls for the heating and cooling company to pay for improvements to the track and football field at the stadium in exchange for naming rights for the stadium and “other sponsorship and marketing rights,” for 10 years, according to agreements on Thursday’s school-board agenda and interviews with those involved.

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The agreement would be in addition to an existing agreement with Miami Valley Hospital, through which the stadium was named and the district and hospital embarked on a $10 million-plus collaboration in 2007 expected to continue through 2029.

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However, the pending district contract with Watkins indicates the agreement between the district and hospital could end in 2022.

“If the MVH agreement expires on May 15, 2022, ‘CareFlight Field’ signage will be removed by the School District,” the agreement states.

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“The stadium shall be simply referred to as ‘Watkins Stadium’ after that date until May 31, 2028,” according to the pending contract.

“That’s the hope,” Watkins said.

Under the agreement, already signed by Watkins, the company is to pay $22,500 every six months or a total of $450,000.

The money is to be used to replace the field and track around it, starting in August, Watkins said on Wednesday.

“They were at a point they were not going to be able to host (track) meets,” Watkins said, adding the football field was also wearing out.

Since 2002, the company has sponsored school sports programs in Lakota East, Mason and Centerville, as well as Springboro, where it is based, according to Watkins.

“This is a whole different level of crazy,” he said. “It’s just a creative way to raise money so they don’t have to raise taxes.”

Also Thursday, the Springboro school board is to consider issuing bonds for $400,000 for the artificial turf and other improvements to be financed with payments from the naming rights agreement with Watkins.

In 2007, the district and Dayton-based hospital signed agreements financing a three-story, $9 million “Healthplex” to be shared by the district and hospital.

The football field features artificial turf purchased with about $2 million the hospital pledged for stadium improvements in exchange for naming rights. The agreement also covered seating expansions and a press box.

The project was financed through the Ohio School Pool, a state fund set up for school projects, at a 4.6 percent interest rate.

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While the district carried the loan, the hospital was to make payments ranging from $720,000 in 2007 to $1.1 million.

In addition to Springboro, Miami Valley reached naming rights and sport medicine agreements at the time with schools in Beavercreek, Mason and Franklin.

Only Springboro and Miami Valley also collaborated on a building.

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Miami Valley Hospital indicated the current naming-rights agreement runs through 2022 “with an option to extend into the future.”

“Miami Valley Hospital has had a great relationship with Springboro Schools and will work closely with school administration on any plans for renewal at the appropriate time,” according to a statement issued Wednesday in response to questions.

Although plans were for hospital doctors and staff to work in the upper floor of the building, “Miami Valley Hospital does not have any physicians occupying the Educare building at this time, but the third floor is completely outfitted for a medical office.”

Hospital officials said they were also contacted about funding the track improvement.

“Miami Valley Hospital supported Springboro Schools’ desire to extend the stadium naming rights to Watkins. The ‘CareFlight Field’ name remains proudly positioned in the location it has been since 2007 and that will not change,” according to the statement.

The newspaper also contacted the district for comment and additional information about the new naming-rights agreement. There has been no response yet.

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