Blue Buffalo leads way in stadium ads

The Blue Buffalo Co. leads the pack in corporate buyers of advertising at Wilton High School football stadium and Lilly Field in this pilot year of the ad program.

Blue Buffalo, a pet food company based in Wilton, has taken the title sponsorship, showing it continues to be a strong supporter of sports programs in town, said J.R. Sherman, co-chairman of the Wilton Athletic and Recreation Foundation, a nonprofit group that will sell and manage the advertising.

“Our pilot year for the stadium sponsorship has kicked off strong. We chose a limited number of placements this year, and we sold out in only a matter of days,” Sherman said.

The pilot year of the advertising program is expected to raise between $20,000 and $50,000, Sherman said.

“We’re also very thankful for our diamond sponsors, Bankwell and Outdoor Sports Center, as well as the other dozen or so generous sponsors who were eager to participate,” Sherman said.

All of the Wilton corporate sponsors will be unveiled in Veterans Memorial Stadium and at Lilly Field in the coming weeks, Sherman said.

The advertising  costs as much as $15,000 for a major corporate sponsorship and as little as $750, according to information provided by Sherman.

“We’re running it as a pilot this year to see the level of interest, then we’ll look closer at how we price it,” Sherman said in an interview last month.

Wilton’s stadium and fields are behind others in surrounding Fairfield County towns in terms of generating income, but selling ads will allow them to catch up and stay ahead for the long term.

“Fixing our facilities and getting ahead isn’t a sprint, it’s a triathlon,” Sherman said. “The foundation will help us never fall behind again.”

The common goal is to stop doing quick fixes on the athletic fields and think 15 years or more ahead and get Wilton ahead from a program perspective.

“This is a community story. We want Wilton to be on top, but it’s not an overnight thing,” Sherman said.

There used to be fund-raisers for athletic needs. Now the advertising sales will provide long-term income.

The approved guidelines for selling advertising at Wilton High School’s football stadium include the exclusion of political content.

The long-term policies were approved for use by Town Counsel Ira Bloom, who examined them and determined they were lawful, said Selectman David Clune at the Sept. 11 meeting. He is leading the drive to sell ads at the Memorial Stadium and Lilly Field.