GEO Group, which is a private prison corporation, has inked a deal in which Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, will rename its football stadium, the GEO Group Stadium. Um, the trend of corporations coughing up big bucks to get their names on stadiums and arenas just took a strange turn.
GEO Group generated its $1.6 billion in revenues for 2011, mostly from state and federal prisons, as well as from detention centers for illegal immigrants. The NY Times reports the company owns or oversees more than “100 properties that operate more than 73,000 beds in sites across the world.”
The university’s president described the deal as “wonderful” and the company as “well run” and by a notable alumnus. But it also left some unsettled, including those who study the business of sports and track the privatization of the prison industry. To those critics, this was a jarring case of the lengths colleges and teams will go to produce revenue, of the way that everything seems to be for sale now in sports — and to anyone with enough cash.
The GEO Group, which is based in Boca Raton, secured the naming rights with a $6 million gift, paid out over 12 years through its charitable arm, the largest such donation in Florida Atlantic’s athletic history. In a news release, the university said the money would finance athletic operations, the stadium, scholarships and “academic priorities.”
The stadium, which opened in the fall of 2011, cost $70 million and seats more than 29,000. It offers 6,000 premium seats, 24 suites and 26 loge boxes. Source
Civil liberty and human rights groups, as well as immigrant rights organizations have been opposed to GEO Group on a number of fronts. The company has been cited by state and federal regulators and lost a series of high-profile lawsuits, the NY Times reports. The mere fact that a prison organization could ink a deal to get its name on a sports facility is troubling on so many levels. How far will universities and sports teams go to get revenue?