Scores of stadiums and arenas around the country carry the logos of the very banks whose reckless business practices heralded the great recession. Others pay homage to purveyors of junk food, with college teams contributing to the national obesity epidemic by naming stadiums for Papa John’s Pizza, Pringles potato chips, Bo jangle’s cheesy biscuits, Taco Bell, KFC, Dunkin’ Donuts, Whataburger, Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper.
These stadium names, at least, recall actual products that football fans might, say, devour at halftime. Somehow the designation Geo Group doesn’t seem likely to set off consumer demand for staycations in any of the company’s 73 prisons and detention centers around the world. Geo is really just buying an image makeover, a little PR to help the public forget the scandals and lawsuits that have plagued the prison privatization scheme in Florida.
The $500,000 a year going to FAU will be less than the company spent on Tallahassee lobbyists in 2011 ($645,000). The company has given out $1.2 million in political contributions to the Florida Republican Party over the last three years, in a failed attempt to get legislative approval to let private operators take over 30 state lockups in 18 southern Florida counties.
But maybe the news that the Geo Group has lavished a few million on FAU will nudge state lawmakers into finally embracing a prison privatization binge.
Of course, there’s a more direct method. Plenty state legislators, for enough money, would happily sell the naming rights to their own children.
“Hey, let me see a picture of your cute little Geo … Oh. Sorry. I meant the kid. Not the car.”