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story.lead_photo.caption The exterior of Fulton's new recreation center — tentatively named Legends Rec Plex — is almost entirely complete. It's set to open in spring of 2021. Photo by Helen Wilbers / Fulton Sun.

After much discussion, the Fulton City Council agreed Tuesday to pursue a sponsorship deal with the Coca-Cola Company for the new recreation center.

To formalize the agreement, they'll have to vote on a resolution at the next City Council meeting Oct. 27. City Clerk Courtney Crowson said she'll have that resolution ready.

"It's a no-brainer," said Bob Washington, Ward 4 City Council member.

If Fulton agrees to sell only Coca-Cola beverages at its new recreation center (set to open next year), Tanglewood Golf Course and Oestreich Municipal Pool, Coca-Cola will provide free beverage coolers and sponsor the installation of retractable volleyball standards at the recreation center.

According to a memo from P&R Director Clay Caswell, the retractable standards — the poles that hold up a volleyball net — were part of the original building design but were removed to save money. Caswell said retractable standards reduce the time needed to set up or take down the two volleyball courts from 20 minutes to 2 minutes, making it easier to use the courts for other purposes.

"We've done a really good job, in my opinion, of cutting expenses," Caswell told the council.

Barring major unexpected expenses, he said the rec center would likely come in at $300,000-$400,000 below its estimated $8.89 million budget.

The standards will cost $14,064 to purchase and install. Coca-Cola has offered to pay $14,000 upfront, plus $1,000 per year over the next four years. They'll also provide Coca-Cola themed signage somewhere in the rec center. To fulfill the terms of the five-year contract, the city must sell 3,425 cases of Coca-Cola bottled beverages (not cans or fountain drinks). That's 685 cases per year for five years or about double the current volume of Coca-Cola products the city sells annually. The contract terminates whenever Fulton finishes selling the 3,425 cases, whether that takes four years or six; afterward, the city could enter a new agreement for additional sponsorship money.

"Pepsi did have an opportunity to give us a proposal, and they chose not to," Mayor Lowe Cannell said.

Caswell noted the city already exclusively sells Coca-Cola products at the pool and golf course.

The contract included in Tuesday's meeting agenda originally spanned beyond just those three facilities, Director of Administration Bill Johnson said.

"The original version, the way I read it, was including all city property," he said — including, for example, vending machines at the city warehouse and Fulton City Hall.

Coca-Cola was willing to specify upon the city's request, Johnson said.

"Does this mean any event in the (rec center) banquet hall would have to use Coca-Cola products?"

City officials affirmed that's correct. The restrictions also apply to caterers catering events at the rec center, pool or golf course.

However, the contract appears only to apply to non-alcoholic drinks. Coca-Cola's contract defines beverages as "all carbonated and non-carbonated, non-alcoholic drinks, however dispensed." It goes on to state "the products shall be the only beverages of their respective type sold, dispensed or served anywhere at the facilities."

The contract also offers an exception for beverage products brought to the facilities for personal use by attendees.

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