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Consultants asking businesses about naming the T

Consultants say they have approached more than 100 groups about buying naming rights to parts of the Port Authority of Allegheny County's T light-rail system.

One group rejected the offer outright, but the consultants are "close (to a deal) with a few," said Tom Rooney of the Houston, Pa.-based Rooney Sports & Entertainment Group. He would not identify the companies.

The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership hired Rooney and Jim Lauteri of the marketing firm JKLauteri & Associates in Mars to pursue long-term naming rights deals that could include attaching a corporate name to the fare-free zone or individual stations.

Money generated could help extend the T's Downtown fare-free zone to the North Shore and Station Square and make North Shore Connector trains scheduled to begin operating March 25 run more frequently than the rest of the T.

It would cost an estimated $500,000 a year to make the North Shore part of the fare-free zone, and at least $1.5 million a year to including both the North Shore and Station Square while running North Shore Connector trains more frequently, said Lucinda Beattie, vice president of transportation for the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

Port Authority told the partnership it couldn't afford doing either, prompting the partnership to pursue deals.

Downtown Partnership President and CEO Jeremy Waldrup said extending the fare-free zone to the North Shore and Station Square would open up additional — and cheaper — parking for Downtown commuters, decrease traffic congestion in the Golden Triangle and more closely link the three areas.

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