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West Herr to pay ECC $300,000 for naming rights to athletics sites

The name of another car dealership will adorn the football and track stadium on the South Campus of Erie Community College.

What has been known for years as Jim Ball Stadium now will be called West Herr Stadium under a new naming rights deal reached between the college and the Hamburg-based West Herr Automotive Group.

West Herr agreed to make a $300,000 gift to the college’s foundation in exchange for exclusive naming rights at the football stadium in Orchard Park.

The deal also applies to the natatorium inside Flickinger Center on ECC’s City Campus and the athletic fields on the North Campus in Amherst.

The college’s board of trustees approved the agreement Thursday.

The exclusive naming rights will run through 2024.

The $300,000 will be used toward plans for construction of a new $30 million science and technology building on the North Campus.

West Herr President Scott Bieler is a 1974 ECC alumnus.

“He recognizes the investment that’s needed in North, and he wanted to be a part of it,” Jeffrey Bagel, ECC’s associate vice president for foundation and alumni relations, told the trustees.

West Herr will be allowed at its cost to place signs at the football stadium, inside the natatorium, including the lobby, and at the athletic fields.

The signs are expected to be in place by the start of the fall athletic season.

Bagel said the college foundation will look for other naming rights opportunities on the campuses.

“This college needs philanthropy and corporate partnerships so we can achieve our goals, and this is a means to do that,” he said.

In other action, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved the creation of a new executive post at the college that will pay a salary of $140,000.

Michael J. Pietkiewicz, 43, assistant vice president for government and community relations at the University at Buffalo since 2010, will begin as senior vice president for operations at ECC in late July.

Prior to being hired at UB in 1999, Pietkiewicz worked as an aide to former Congressman Jack Quinn, who is now president of ECC.

The new position has caused consternation among employees of the college, which in recent years has held off on hiring new faculty and staff and has had to dip into fund balance to offset revenue shortfalls caused by declining enrollments.

The process used in the hiring also was criticized because the post was not advertised and no formal search was conducted.

Board members defended the hire as a key part of the college’s efforts grow enrollment and expand ECC’s involvement in economic development and other initiatives across Western New York.