The New York Times reports that the Golden Gate Bridge faces an $80 Million operating deficit over the next 5 years. The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, the authority that manages the bridge, is trying to come up with a corporate sponsorship plan that won't effect the look or character of the landmark. One idea is to develop a visitor's center on the San Francisco side, adding cultural value for tourists and chances for companies to sponsor buildings or booths in the center, thus getting an association with the bridge, all without an iota of change to the span itself. San Francisco Beautiful, the non-profit opposition, is already on guard, determined to preserve not only the Golden Gate's fabled appearance but a sense of style and class they fear will be dragged down by corporate sponsorship.
San Francisco - maybe you have it backwards. Consider all the companies that already use a Golden Gate like bridge as part of their logo or advertising, for free. Cisco comes to mind, but others do the same and more will want to do so in years to come. Why not create an official sponsor category that let's them do this with the blessing of the bridge's management, for a fee. If need be, investigate whether there is a way to protect, limit and license the commercial use of the bridge's image, a land mark trade mark? (copyright?, design patent?). If the Bridge authority paid to design and build the bridge why does a company like Cisco get to use the image of the bridge as a logo for free? In other words, don't even think about changing the bridge, find a way to collect from the companies that are capitalizing, for free, on the image of the bridge. Cisco, and others using the bridge logo, might put up $80 Million just to earn good will instead of getting involved in a fight that would generate nothing but bad publicity.
If the licensing angle doesn't work, assemble a coalition of the orange willing -Ing, Home Depot, Syracuse, sorry San Francisco Beautiful - I think we should let Hooters in on this, further suggestions welcome. Promise to keep the bridge orange if they buy the paint.