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Cal Poly signs $800,000 deal with French Hospital

Cal Poly Athletics has signed an $800,000 marketing contract with French Hospital Medical Center in San Luis Obspo that’s the largest corporate sponsorship in university history.

Under the exclusive, five-year deal signed last week, French Hospital will be “The Preferred Choice of Cal Poly Athletics.”

While athletes will be able to receive medical care wherever they choose, French CEO Alan Iftiniuk said the hospital will provide them with care such as inpatient and outpatient services, including surgeries and physical therapy.

The marketing agreement with the university will give the hospital significant exposure. Every time Cal Poly football is mentioned, French Hospital will also be mentioned.

French Hospital will be promoted at all Cal Poly baseball, basketball, softball, volleyball, soccer and wrestling events.

As part of the deal, French Hospital and Cal Poly will present a healthy-kids program to dozens of local elementary and middle schools, promoting healthy eating and exercise habits. When kids in the program achieve certain goals, they will receive a free ticket to a Cal Poly football game and their name will appear on the scoreboard at halftime.

Poly Athletic Director Don Oberhelman said the Athletic Department was satisfied with the services provided by Sierra Vista, but the department wanted to move in a “different direction.”

Sierra Vista was Cal Poly’s health-care sponsor for four years, though the hospital noted in a statement that the cost of its sponsorship was never more than roughly 20 percent of the amount of the French Hospital deal.

With rising health-care costs and recent local layoffs in the health-care industry, “our feeling is that an $800,000 investment in a sponsorship was a disservice to the people who trust Sierra Vista for care,” according to the statement.

The hospital’s statement also noted that the proposal presented by Cal Poly’s Athletic Department “contained language that made us uncomfortable and warranted clarification and further discussion.”

Sierra Vista spokesman Ron Yukelson said he could not elaborate beyond the statement issued by the hospital.

Sierra Vista officials also said they hope that medical professionals at Cal Poly and local physicians would ensure university students and student athletes would “be cared for at the most appropriate health-care facility based on clinical expertise and not a sponsorship agreement.”

Oberhelman said that is the case, adding that just because French Hospital has been designated as Poly’s preferred choice of health care doesn’t mean that some student athletes won’t continue to use the services offered at Sierra Vista or elsewhere.

The 15-percent discount available online to San Luis Obispo County residents for Sunset Savor the Central Coast’s Main Event Oct. 1 and 2 will expire at the end of the day Friday. However, they will still be available for tickets purchased in advance at Farm Supply stores.

The Main Event at Santa Margarita Ranch will include food and wine tastings, demonstrations and a kitchen garden. A discounted one-day pass costs $72.25 plus tax and $127.50 plus tax for two days).

For more information about the four-day food and wine event, go to www.savorcentralcoast.com or call 800-634-1414.

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