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PACT WITH COCA-COLA WOULD HELP BUILD LANCASTER FIELD HOUSE

Things apparently go better with Coke in Lancaster, where school officials are weighing a deal with the soft-drink giant that could help the district build a field house and bring in almost $900,000 in aid to education over the next 10 years.

A financial package being offered by Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Buffalo includes $120,000 toward a proposed $2.5 million to $2.8 million field house, it was learned Wednesday.

School Superintendent Joseph L. Girardi called it a "partnership" between Coke and Lancaster schools that will help the public school system without adding to the tax burden.

The nuts and bolts of the pact will be made public Monday when Coca-Cola makes a formal presentation at a Lancaster School Board meeting.

Sources, however, said that in addition to $120,000 up front, the package includes commissions on the sale of Coke's line of beverages at Lancaster schools and athletic events, scholarship programs, computer software, recycling, event promotions, and assembly, vocational and career-day speakers for the next decade.

In return, Coke would enjoy exclusive "pouring" rights in the district for 10 years, including some advertising and signs, as well as the right to hawk its products at athletic events. Officials said facility naming rights never entered their discussions with Coke.

They said the proposed field house, because of its soft-drink marketing potential, was the catalyst for approaching Coke and Pepsi-Cola Buffalo Bottling Corp. for corporate educational aid.

The School Board is considering whether to build a 31,500-square-foot field house, which could generate revenue from community and interscholastic events, or a small gymnasium with no revenue potential. The field house construction package currently is pegged at $2.5 million to $2.8 million, while the gym addition at Lancaster High School reportedly would cost about $3 million.

Officials said they believe the field house can be built and equipped within a $2.7 million budget, leaving up to the School Board how to spend the $120,000 in "up front" money earmarked by Coke for district athletics.

Assistant School Superintendent Edward J. Myszka said there are 25 soft-drink machines in district schools and other buildings, dispensing both Coke and Pepsi. The machines accessible to students are on timers so that they can't be operated until after the last lunch period. They do about $40,000 in business a year, with 30 percent going to the district, he said.

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