Athletic facility sponsorship for Cloquet Schools clears first hurdle

The proposed contract with Members Cooperative Credit Union would include $1.25 million in funding for the project, as well as an additional contribution of up to $300,000 for the scoreboard.

Garfield School
Garfield School in Cloquet
File / Cloquet Pine Journal

CLOQUET — The final piece of the financial puzzle for the Cloquet School District’s $4.3 million outdoor physical education and athletic complex project was revealed during the school board's Monday, Feb. 13 meeting at Garfield School.

All six school board members unanimously approved a sponsorship letter of intent with Members Cooperative Credit Union that would cover $1.25 million of the project's cost, along with an additional contribution of up to $300,000 that would go towards construction of the scoreboard.

Under the conditions of the agreement, MCCU would be provided with the exclusive naming rights to the complex, and all publications and communications must include MCCU’s name and/or logo.

The letter goes on to state that payments by MCCU would be split over two years, with $625,000 to be paid the first year, and the remaining $625,000, along with the cost of the scoreboard, paid the second year of the proposed 20-year agreement.

Cloquet Superintendent Michael Cary said the letter is not a final contract, though it allows for Cary and district representatives to meet again with MCCU representatives to discuss any possible changes with the goal of having the final contract up for a vote at the board’s next meeting.


“They understand that we would have a timeline of getting that final contract in place by our next board meeting, and so we tried to flesh out as much of the details as we reasonably could and this letter of intent is a strong start on that process,” he said.

By and large, board members were pleased with the conditions of the agreement, with the exception of possible advertisement banners in the middle school gym and weight rooms, which were both publicly funded, according to Cary.

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Board member Ken Scarbrough also took exception to the proposed requirement that MCCU would be provided the opportunity to be the sole and exclusive provider of financial education and financial literacy for teachers and students, if applicable.

Cary shared that the stipulation was not uncommon for such sponsorships and is part of other sponsorship agreements for other districts in the region.

In spite of some of the objections raised, board members Gary “Hawk” Huard and Dave Battaglia shared their approval of the proposed agreement.

“To go to the taxpayers, that’s not what we want to do,” Battaglia said. “So I think this is a great opportunity for us. There’s some things we have to adjust, but I think for the most part it’s a great deal for us.”

With the corporate sponsorship deal nearing completion, the full scope of how the district intends to cover the $4.3 million price tag became clearer.

An estimated $2 million will come from existing capital funds that the district brings in annually. An additional $1 million will come from existing Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds that the district has already applied and received approval for. The remaining amount will be covered by the corporate sponsor.


The Cloquet School Board will vote on the final contract at its next meeting on Feb. 27.

Jake Przytarski is a reporter for the Cloquet Pine Journal covering a mix of news and sports.
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