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Advertisers may get shot at renaming MBTA stations

The T could be getting closer to selling station names to corporate sponsors.

It's no surprise that the T is strapped for cash.

After a long winter of figuring out how to close its fiscal 2013 budget deficit by slashing some services and agreeing to a fare hike, MBTA officials continue to explore ways to raise revenue for the Hub's public transit agency.

But is selling the names of stops and stations in the works?

Riders could be rolling into "McDonald's Station" or "Macy's Avenue," rather than the traditional stops they are familiar with if the T's Board of Directors decides to give up the naming rights of certain locations for some extra cash.

According to an MBTA spokesman, the T selected a group to develop a "naming rights program," and were tasked with drafting a Request For Proposals (RFP) that would be used to solicit bids.

The group, IMG, also had a focus group come in and discuss the pros and cons of selling naming rights, according to T officials.

The details about the focus group and the outcome of the study will be revealed at the next regularly scheduled monthly board meeting.

Joe Pesaturo, spokesman for the T, told Metro that the Requests for Proposals, if rolled out, will offer naming rights opportunities, which would be individually bid out.

"As it works to develop an RFP, IMG is using feedback generated at the focus group session. After the Board of Directors is given a briefing on the RFP, the MBTA anticipates advertising it," he said in an e-mail.

Pesaturo said the point of the focus group was to "get an idea of what customers would think of the possibility of adding advertisers' names to MBTA facilities."

He did not say what the outcome of the feedback was, however, but confirmed there would be a briefing to the board in an upcoming meeting and they could go forward with the idea if "the board is comfortable with that."

In December, an advocacy group claimed that selling the naming rights to T stations was "corrupt."

"If we move forward with this initiative, it must be done in a manner that is consistent with the distinctive character and attributes of America's first subway," said interim MBTA General Manager Jon Davis.