After weeks of protest from students and human rights activists (not to mention commentary from a certain comedian) the private prison company GEO Group has withdrawn its $6 million offer to purchase the naming righs of Florida Atlantic University’s football stadium (which will now continue to go by the less controversial moniker, FAU Stadium).
“The university,” reports the Huffington Post, “had been seeking a corporate sponsor for two years to pay down the debt on its newly built stadium, and the GEO Group pledged to pay $6 million over 10 years in exchange for the naming rights.”
Worth billions in revenue (see “New Hampshire Says No to Private Prisons,” Valley Advocate, 4/4/13), the GEO Group owns or manages close to 100 correctional facilities encompassing over 70,000 beds in Australia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States, the company’s website says, with the majority of their business (approximately 60,000 beds in 60 facilities) being done Stateside.
“Florida Atlantic President Mary Jane Saunders,” continues the Huffington Post, noted that “the GEO Group’s decision was made entirely on its own, without input from the university. But, she agreed that the stadium naming deal had become a distraction from other university initiatives.”
So for now, it appears stadiums named after corporations will not include any private prison companies. But, as Stephen Colbert points out, the exercise may not have been a waste of time or effort for the GEO Group. Because when you start paying “millions of dollars to have people pay attention to your company,” Colbert observes, “people start paying attention to your company.”