U alumnus auctions monumental idea

With TCF Bank’s recent bid for the naming rights to an on-campus football stadium, others are hopping on the naming rights bandwagon – in slightly different ways.

Dan Maruska, a University alumnus and former employee of The Minnesota Daily, is delving into the hype by selling the ideas behind a plan he created for a monument. His medium of choice: eBay.com.

With the help of local designer Curtis Square-Briggs, Maruska designed a plan for a monument depicting approximately 75 scientific and philosophical figures in Western culture ascending a mountain, according to the eBay listing.

Maruska’s online auction, which ends at 2 p.m. today, entitles the winning bidder to the rights to the monument’s design and the naming rights for both the monument and land, dubbed “intellectual property” for the item’s intangible nature.

The auction’s category is “other,” because eBay does not have a specific listing for intellectual property.

“Selling an idea isn’t easy, but I think it’s a spectacular design,” Maruska said. “If it was built, it would attract a lot of attention.”

But Maruska’s encountered one major road block along the way. The proposed location is a plot of land near campus where the Peking Garden Restaurant currently stands.

According to restaurant management, the property is not for sale. Proprietors Louis and Mary Lau said they have owned the restaurant for more than 12 years, and the business has been around for many more. They said they are not going anywhere.

“We don’t have anything in mind at this time,” said Mary Lau, Peking Garden Restaurant manager.

Maruska’s eBay listing warns potential bidders not to contact the restaurant, offering his services to work through the arbitration instead.

“The priority is (the Laus’) restaurant,” Maruska said.

The initial idea for the monument design came through some architecture classes Maruska completed at the University, but the plan didn’t come together until after graduation, he said.

Maruska said the property has a European plaza-type feel to it – the restaurant site is a perfect location for a public square or monument.

“The land has a great potential to be redeveloped,” he said.

The monument would be a mix of glass and plastic, giving it a translucent appearance.

Even if the land is unavailable, there’s some consumer interest in this intellectual property.

Zack Gustine, an independent consultant from St. Paul, found the auction through an eBay search for local historical knick knacks. His bid of $100 was short of Maruska’s $10,000 reserve on the auction.

“It looked like it could make me a few bucks,” Gustine said.

He said he appreciates the thought of using online auctions to sell unique items such as naming rights.

“What better outlet for the average person?” he said. “Your idea gets out there instead of dying with you.”

– Freelance editor Lou Raguse welcomes comments at [email protected]