AT&T may soon be on the line - the Broad Street Line.
Cash-strapped SEPTA is considering a proposal to sell the naming rights to the southernmost subway stop. AT&T has offered $5 million to change the name of the Pattison station, which serves the Sports Complex in South Philadelphia.
What's next, City Hall? (No Fumo jokes, please.)
"Most likely not," SEPTA spokesman Richard Maloney said of the City Hall station. "But we would certainly entertain ideas on renaming other stations."
All references for the Pattison stop would be changed to AT&T Station, Maloney said.
The telecommunications giant also would pay to update maps, printed schedules, and signage with the new name, Maloney said.
The five-year arrangement would net SEPTA about $3 million. The balance, $2 million, would be shared with various city agencies, Maloney said.
It's not a done deal, he said. The 15-member SEPTA board is to vote on the proposal Thursday.
Doug Oliver, a spokesman for Mayor Nutter, said the proposal to change the station's name was favorably received at a SEPTA committee meeting Thursday and was likely to be approved.
The idea of selling the naming rights to stations isn't new, Maloney said.
"We've been discussing it for a while," he said. "It's a trend in national advertising and this is a part of that."
The South Philadelphia stadiums already bear the names of financial institutions: Citizens Bank Park, Wachovia Center, and Lincoln Financial Field. Renaming the station is a logical extension, he said.
Renaming a subway stop isn't unprecedented.
Last year, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York City sold the naming rights to a station in Brooklyn to Barclays, the British financial services company, for $4 million.
Renaming other transportation properties has been eyed as states rush to raise revenue.
Officials in New Jersey proposed selling the naming rights to turnpike rest stops this year to close an $11 billion state budget deficit.
SEPTA, facing a $110 million budget hole, has been scrambling to find new sources of funding. It had been banking on I-80 toll money from the state, until Washington rejected the state's application to place the tolls.
Without that money, SEPTA has postponed 22 major projects, including its planned electronic-fare system and a makeover of the decrepit City Hall subway station.
To fill the gap the agency has made a concerted effort to expand and generate more income from advertising, Maloney said. Last year, selling ad space in transit stations, buses, and subway cars generated $11 million.
On the Broad Street Line Thursday night, riders had mixed feelings about changing the name of the Pattison station.
"I don't think companies should be able to name our train stops," said Alexis McVicker, 28, of Center City. "It's a waste of time and confusing."
Karol Gibbons, 39, of South Philadelphia, said renaming the station wouldn't make a difference to her.
She noted that Delaware Avenue was renamed Columbus Boulevard. That was in 1992.
"And we still call it Delaware Avenue."