Discovery Green Don’t Come Cheap

As we mention in passing in this week’s Hair Balls column, brand-new $122-million downtown park Discovery Green comes with just about every square inch of space named after one donor or another. (Real estate blog Swamplot has the list here.)

We talked to Susanne Theis about all this. Theis has a certain expertise in the area; before taking the job of program director at Discovery Green, she was at the Orange Show. There she spent the last few years answering complaints that the Art Car Parade had become an over-commercialized festival of huge corporations selling themselves.

As with the parade, Theis says donor money is crucial, and donors want to see something tangible for their cash. Although she puts it in a much less crass manner than that.

“I know how much it cost to build the park,” she says, “and I know that one of the reasons people give to make something happen is that they feel invested in and want to have a part in it.”

She is proud of one thing: “I know that we didn’t name the park. It doesn’t have anyone else’s name on it,” she says.

What, like Waste Management Park?

“Yeah, well, believe it or not we talked to some other people recently who are building a park in a city that I will not name who are planning to do that,” Theis says. (Using a corporate name, she means; not necessarily Waste Management’s corporate name.)

So you’ll just have to get used to the ubiquitous signage, and thank your lucky stars they drew the dignity line somewhere. “It’s a park that’s going to be open and free for everyone and the money had to come from somewhere,” Theis says.

We still think Park has a ring to it. And the reclining benches are to die for! – Richard Connelly

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