Some day soon, a food-tasting event at New York's LaGuardia Airport might help fund the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's budget.

Not to worry: On-duty transit officials won't be doing the cooking. But a food tasting might be part of a multi-year deal for an advertising and sponsorship program that the authority recently signed. Short of money to operate and protect some of the nation's best-known and well-used bridges, airports, tunnels and transit systems--to say nothing of a heliport, marine terminal and several container terminals--the port authority "must identify new revenue sources to help defray rising costs," according to Chairman Anthony R. Coscia.

People make more than 450 million trips a year through the various transportation routes under the port authority's aegis. The firms that have signed on to work on the marketing plan are counting on advertisers and promoters to jump at the chance to wave their brands in front of that many eyes.

The marketing program won't take the traditional route of static billboard advertising. The possibilities for promoting goods or services range from product demonstrations to digital media and interactive signs to electronic kiosks. The firms putting together the overall program were selected in September, and they hadn't signed deals with any individual companies yet. The port authority is banking on generating enough sponsorship interest that there will be money not only to help defray security and operations but also to fund customer service enhancements and the transportation facilities themselves.