For sale: naming rights to one Japanese city. Condition: used. Includes airport!
So might go an ad in the classified section for Izumisano, a city in Japan's western Osaka Prefecture. The city has become so burdened by debts in the last several years that officials there have offered to change the city's name in exchange for a boatload of cash.
According to The Yomiuri Shimbun, the city will also lease the rights to the name on its city hall, public roads. Public workers' uniforms and other items may also be adorned with advertisements.
"We'll employ every means possible to solve our severe fiscal condition," a senior city official told the paper. "As our city is home to Kansai Airport, we believe companies will have the ability to transmit information to the rest of the world."
Ironically, some officials blame that very airport for much of Isumizano's current ills. The city owes lenders over 100 billion yen ($1.2 billion dollars), much of which was originally borrowed to increase access the airport.
"The city spent a lot of money building roads and other infrastructure because the airport was built in this relatively remote place," added an official to The Agence France-Presse, on condition of anonymity.
Officials opened the bidding in June of this year but have so far received scant interest. Most calls have instead come from Isumizano's curious and/or angry citizens, who number around 100,000.
The Telegraph reports the winning bidder will also be required to sign a contract "affirming a connection with the city." For example, a ten-year contract relocating a company's headquarters to Isumizano. Much of the area's economy currently relies on the towel manufacturing industry.
Officials will field bids for a new name until November 30.
While the Izumisano's plan is certainly unique, it isn't unheard of.
In 1950, a city in New Mexico known as "Hot Springs" changed its name to "Truth or Consequences" in homage to a popular NBC television show at the time.
The city, now typically referred to as "T or C," received ample amounts of positive media coverage which supported its nascent tourist industry. Surprisingly, the name change has been upheld in four city-wide votes held since then.