Florida college stadium named after private prison corp

Source: GEO Group website

A college football stadium built for the Florida Atlantic Owls will be known in future as “GEO Group Stadium,” following a deal inked yesterday worth $6 million.

Florida Atlantic University is a public university located in Boca Raton.  What makes this corporate sponsorship deal unique is that GEO Group is one of the largest operators of private prisons in the US.

Here’s how FAU describes the company in their press release:

Headquartered in Boca Raton, The GEO Group is the first fully integrated equity real estate investment trust specializing in the design, financing, development, and operation of correctional, detention, and community reentry facilities around the globe.

The GEO Group is the world’s leading provider of diversified correctional, detention, and community reentry services to government agencies worldwide with operations in the United States, Australia, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.

The GEO Group’s worldwide operations include the ownership and/or management of 101 facilities totaling 73,000 beds with a growing workforce of approximately 18,000 professionals.

The idea of branding a college sports stadium with the logo of a company that specializes in housing inmates sparked immediate skepticism.  This from Huffongtonpost:

“It appears to be a charitable gift that is trying to be a marketing vehicle, and it just doesn’t make a lot of sense,” said Paul Swangard, managing director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon’s business school. “To link themselves with an athletic department when their business is locking people up, it just doesn’t connect to me really well.”

But the reality is that private for-profit incarceration continues to be a growing sector of the economy, with Federal officials reporting two months ago that the “percentage of all prisoners housed in private prison facilities increased slightly in 2011 from 7.9% to 8.2%.”

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