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Mar 4, 2014 7:20 PM by Nathan O'Neal

City could sell naming rights of streetcar to raise revenue

TUCSON - City leaders are considering selling off the naming rights to the modern streetcar to help bring in revenue for its operating and maintenance costs.

The modern streetcar will end up costing Tucson about $197 million, the city still owes $13 million of that.

"We're looking for opportunities to have revenue to help support our operations and naming rights has been used extensively, most commonly with sporting venues," said Carlos de Leon, the Deputy Director of the Tucson Department of Transportation.

Carlos de Leon told News 4 Tucson that the city is considering a bid for consultant to further evaluate the possibility.

"To help us evaluate what is the value of the Sun Link system - the modern streetcar system - and then translate how that value might be translated into sponsorship," he said.

Naming rights could be up for grabs on vehicles, the stations and even the streetcar maintenance facility - all in hopes of generating some cash.

Councilman Steve Kozachik has been critical of the streetcar's sustainability. He wants to have all the options openly on the table.

"The city has a history of cutting some deals that have way too much money laying on the table," Kozachik said, adding: "When it comes to covering operations and maintenance on the street car, it's going to cost into the multiple millions of dollars annually -- so if we can get someone to buy naming rights, that would be a great thing."

These sponsorships would not be like advertisement which usually experience frequent turnover.

"It's a long-term investment, but the goal is to get that investment and help us with the ongoing operation of the modern streetcar system and to reduce the cost to the taxpayer," de Leon said.

City leaders hope to hire the consultant within the next month.

The modern streetcar is scheduled to be fully operational by late July.

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