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Council Considers Opening City Property to Commercial Ads

Private companies would be able to advertise on city-owned property across Pittsburgh, under Councilman Bill Peduto's "Market Based Revenue Opportunity" bill introduced on Tuesday.

City-owned buildings, vehicles, park benches, and the official Pittsburgh website could pick up commercial sponsorships under the legislation.

Peduto said private companies won't be inundating Pittsburgh with petitions to advertise on city property. Rather, he said the measure allows the city to request bids for a limited number of advertising opportunities.

Peduto said the new advertising initiative has a very definite revenue goal.

"Well, here's the sad part about it: we not only have an estimate; we've actually included it in our five-year plan," said Peduto. "So, we need to be raising between about $1.2 [million] to $2 million dollars annually through these opportunities to be able to stay within what we've budgeted for."

Large billboards and the like have been ruled out by the task force that drafted the legislation, which formed back in 2007. Rather, companies could buy the naming rights to certain city buildings, particularly in parks.

Peduto said he thinks the neighborhood home pages of the city website will be a popular place for local business ads.

"[The web page] tells you about what time the garbage is picked up or what parks are there, but it doesn't tell you about the restaurants, or their hotels, or places you can stay," said Peduto. "We can open up our website without having gaudy banners all over it, but at the same time still receive revenue by providing our local businesses an opportunity to be on the most visited website in the city, the City of Pittsburgh's."

Peduto said public safety vehicles and uniforms would be exempt from ads. He said it may be possible to rent parts of the City-County Building for events if the bill becomes law.

The measure is up for a preliminary committee vote next Wednesday.