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YMCA attracts corporate sponsors

| Wednesday, March 3, 2010

PNC Financial Services Group Inc., law firm Reed Smith and insurer Highmark Inc. purchased naming and sponsorship rights to Pittsburgh's newest YMCA branch, officials said Tuesday.

PNC officials announced the bank's charitable arm purchased naming rights to the 44,000-square-foot facility set to open this month as the centerpiece of an overhaul of Market Square intended to attract people Downtown.

"We have a wonderful opportunity to make this a center of community," said Kevin Bolding, YMCA district vice president, who moved here last year from Miami to manage daily operations. "We do not want to just limit this to health and wellness. We want to have a big, measurable impact on this community."

Reed Smith will sponsor the YMCA's 25-meter indoor pool and Highmark will sponsor a second-floor "wellness center" lined with treadmills and elliptical exercise machines that overlook the $5.1 million transformation of Market Square into a European-style piazza.

Officials declined to disclose the amount of the corporate sponsorships.

Developer Massaro Corp. is converting part of the historic G.C. Murphy Building into the PNC YMCA. The project is part of a larger, $40 million complex with 30,000 square feet of street-level restaurant and retail space and 46 lofts dubbed Market Square Place, built by Washington County-based Millcraft Industries Inc.

"The commitment of these three organizations together is financially meaningful," said Bill Demchak, senior vice chairman of PNC and a YMCA board member. "It will help ensure the programs offered by the Y and the membership experience is the best available."

YMCA CEO Eric Mann said the organization depends on individual and corporate sponsors to support capital and operating expenses.

Such corporate naming and sponsorships are not uncommon among YMCA branches nationwide, said Mamie Moore, a spokeswoman for YMCA of USA in Chicago. She could not provide figures for how many branches have sold naming rights because the organization does not track that information.

"Sometimes it's an individual, and sometimes it's a corporation. It's definitely not unheard of," she said.

The Baierl Family, which owns car dealerships north of Pittsburgh, bought naming rights to a YMCA branch that opened in 2006 in Franklin Park.

This is the fourth Downtown home for the 18-branch YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh in its 150-year history, Mann said.

Previous branches were located at the corner of Penn and Seventh avenues, Wood Street and, most recently, the Boulevard of the Allies, which opened in 1986 and has more than twice as much space. Point Park University purchased the Boulevard of the Allies location for $3.8 million.

The YMCA opened an extension at U.S. Steel Tower that features a UPMC Health Plan Wellness Center.

The new Market Square branch will open to more than 3,000 members shortly after the Boulevard of the Allies location closes March 25 or 26, Bolding said. A grand opening is scheduled for April 24.

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