Branding the World of Sports

Archive for the ‘Venue Naming Rights’ Category

AdAge article on stadium sponsorship lists BrandDunk

Posted by ZA on June 16, 2010

Rich Thomaselli used some quotes from our conversation in his AdAge article (click here) on how the Meadowland landing the 2014 Super bowl might help naming rights deal on that stadium.  I thought Rich had a good angle on this story because those events will help to land bigger naming rights deals for Jets/Giants and Cowboys Stadium.  That is likely one of Jerry Jones ulterior motivations behind bringing these major events to Jerry World.

Posted in Sports Marketing, Venue Naming Rights | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Evaluating my 2009 Sports Marketing predictions

Posted by ZA on January 3, 2010

Time to take a look back and evaluate how I did on my 2009 predictions for the world of Sports Marketing. I posted my “bold predictions” on January 2, 2009 as a wide ranging look at some of the big moves I thought would happen in the industry.  I made seven predictions and wind up getting almost half of them correct.

Prediction: Tiger Woods will sign with Mercedes or BMW.

Result: This one did not happen, but who could have predicted the implosion that would happen to Tiger Woods the endorsement star in 2009.  Tiger is currently losing endorsements by the week, but I still think this prediction will eventually come true.  Companies will stay away from Woods for awhile, but when they do come back I expect Tiger to pickup a luxury car endorsement deal.

Prediction: Wrigley Field gets a new name.

Result: This one didn’t happen, although the Cubs were finally sold at the end of the year so it could be on-tap for 2010.

Prediction: AIG will end uniform sponsorship with Manchester United.
Result: I got this one right.  Shortly after writing these predictions word came out that AIG would discontinue their deal with Man U.  AIG actually just chose not to renew their deal, but close enough I got this one right.

Prediction: NASCAR will cut races.

Result: It was a tough year for Nascar with a tough economy and huge losses in the auto industry both hurting the sport.  The end result was that some races were not return to the schedule (e.g.- Milwaukee Mile in 2010).

Prediction: Reebok will be folded by Adidas.

Result: This did not happen, and with parent company, Adidas’ stock up 20% in 2009, the Reebok brand might be safe for awhile.  That said, I still think we’re still headed towards an Adidas versus Nike world, so at some point Adidas is going to put Reebok down.

Prediction: Under Armour will be acquired by Nike.

Result: This did not happen, but I still feel it’s one that could happen soon.  Under Armour’s stock is only up slightly since beginning of ’09 and UA stock took a pounding in October when they missed the mark with their expansion into running shoes.  Nike is still flying high and has a $30 billion market cap, so I think they eventually make this acquisition to eliminate a big competitor.

Prediction: David Beckham goes back to Europe.
Result: Nailed this prediction.  Becks came, he played a little bit and created a sensation.  Then David high tailed it back to the Spanish Premiere League.  I think Beckham likes the idea of playing in America, but isn’t really interested in doing it just yet.

Posted in Adidas, Apparel & Shoes, Golf, Nascar, Nike, Sports Brands, Sports Marketing, Under Armour, Venue Naming Rights | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Izod Center naming rights deal going up in smoke

Posted by ZA on October 22, 2009

In 2007 the New Jersey Devils and Seton Hall Pirates announced they would be moving their home games to the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.  The Devils and Pirates were both leaving the Continental Airlines Arena, which had been their home venue for nearly 20 years.  That move had a domino effect which is still being felt today.

Continental Airlines subsequently backed out of their $1.3 million dollar annual contract for the naming rights the Meadowlands Arena; which had been called Continental Airlines Arena since 1995.  The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority then went out to get bids from companies who wanted to put their name on the building.  They received a few offers and finally settled on a deal with Izod at $1.4 million per year.  The new name of the arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey would be the Izod Center.

The Izod Center has been the home venue for the NBA’s New Jersey Nets, as well as, a host of concerts and events for the past two seasons.  But it appears now that could all come to an end.  The Nets have been made plans to move their franchise to Brooklyn to play at the Barclays Center; a move that should happen in 2011.  Which in theory would give the Izod Center a permanent resident for at least two more years, which would cover most of the three year’s left on the naming rights deal.  But now the Nets are considering moving their home games to Prudential Center, which would leave the Izod Center devoid a full-time tenant.

What does this loss mean to Izod’s naming rights deal? It means Izod would no longer get the millions of mentions that come from having a professional sports franchise playing in your building (mentions on Sportscenter and in every newspaper that prints a story on the Nets game).  It means that there would be approximately 800,000 fewer people attending events the arena bearing their name, because the 40 Nets home games are eliminated.  In-short, it would mean a huge decrease in the exposure the deal originally was set to provide.  On the plus side, Izod could save some money because the annual payment on the deal drops to $750k if the Nets are no longer the tenant.  But does a reduced cost really offset all that Izod loses in exposure on the deal?  No, Izod would be left with an aging venue sitting nearly empty next to the New Jersey interstate.  Izod will be the naming rights partner for an arena that is dying.  That is not exactly the kind of deal you want your brand associated with; Izod should look to get out of this deal if the Nets leave.

Posted in NBA, Venue Information, Venue Naming Rights | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Historic Rosenblatt gives way to TD Ameritrade

Posted by ZA on June 16, 2009

Right now one of the best, and least heralded, sporting events in the World is occurring at a stadium in the heartland of America.  The 2009 College World Series is being played at historic Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Nebraska.  The College World Series, or CWS as it is commonly called, is the postseason tournament to decide the NCAA Division I Champion from men’s college baseball.  The tournament brings together 8 of the best teams to compete in a double elimination tournament.  What makes it so great is the emotion these teams and their fans display; the emotions that come out when you have reached your goal (Omaha) and have the championship in sight.

Every division I college baseball player, fan and coach starts the season with one goal in-mind.  That goal is to get to Omaha for the College World Series.  Teams typically play a 40+ game regular season schedule and then a dozen postseason games just to try to earn a spot in the CWS field.  So naturally those fortunate few that make the trip to historic Rosenblatt Stadium are excited to be there.  That excitement comes through as a tangle buzz of emotion that surrounds each game.  And Rosenblatt Stadium is the grand, old ballpark that plays host to that excitement.
For over 50 years the CWS has been played at Rosenblatt Stadium on the outskirts of Omaha.  Rosenblatt is full of stories about great teams, players or moments that occurred on that field.  It is one of those stadiums that you say ‘if these walls could talk’ because you know it would tell a ton of great stories.

But very soon, that is all going to end.  No, not the College World Series.  That will continue on in Omaha through at least 2035, thanks to a new deal with the NCAA.  But the games will no longer be played at historic Rosenblatt Stadium.

The City of Omaha is currently building a new $128 million dollar stadium that will become the new home of the CWS in 2011.  The new stadium will be located in downtown Omaha and will more closely resemble a modern professional baseball stadium.  That means the stadium will have higher priced club seating and luxury suites, which bring in more revenue.  Following another tradition common with professional stadiums; the new stadium will have a corporate sponsor paying for the naming rights to the stadium.  TD Ameritrade announced on June 10th that they would be to be the title sponsor of the new ballpark, paying approximately $20 million over the next 20 years.  That means the new home of the College World Series in Omaha will be named TD Ameritrade Park, not Rosenblatt Stadium.

As sad as I am to see Rosenblatt Stadium put out to pasture, I understand this is how sports work today.  Sports are a revenue generating venture, so it is necessary for Omaha (and the NCAA) to upgrade the facility to make more money on the CWS.  Part of that money will be made from the aforementioned venue naming rights.  Although it would be great to still have games played at a stadium named for Johnny Rosenblatt, there is a great opportunity with TD Ameritrade.  TD Ameritrade stepped up to the plate to support this venue and thereby the event that will be played there each June.  They should be commended for their investment, and I believe their $1 million per year will be well worth it in the exposure they receive.  Their name is now linked to one of the best events in college sports and will be on the lips of media around the country.  So it’s easy to see how they will recoup their annual investment in the CWS.

But it will be sad to longer see games after 2010 CWS at Rosenblatt.  Since I was a kid I have memories of games there.  And there are thousands of fans who have great memories of games at Rosenblatt, that will have to remain memories…because the reality is that after next season there will be no more CWS games played at Rosenblatt.  A great legend of sports will be leaving us, but hopefully it will be adequately replaced by the new venue.

New home of College World Series

New home of College World Series (photo from Wikipedia)

Posted in College Sports, Stadium Construction, Venue Information, Venue Naming Rights | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Does anyone have more sponsors than Real Salt Lake?

Posted by ZA on June 12, 2009

Sponsorship deals are a way for professional sports teams to collect additional revenue, beyond ticket sales and concessions.  Large professional teams can bring in millions of dollars per year from these type of sponsorships.  But not every sponsorship deal is a revenue generator, many today are in-kind deals where a team trades sponsorship rights for services.  For example, a team might receive free, or reduced rate, airline travel by providing a sponsorship package to an airline.

These in-kind sponsorship deals are valuable for teams and the sponsors who receive them, but they are probably not going to get the same level of exposure that cash paying sponsors will receive.  But teams have plenty of sponsorship opportunities to sell, from naming rights deals on their stadium all the way down to logo inclusion in a game program.  With this plethora of opportunities to wheel and deal on trading services for sponsorships, many teams are cutting down on expenses by lining up a multitude of in-kind sponsors to cover many of their team needs (i.e.- expenses).

One professional team that is having success signing these in-kind sponsorships is Real Salt Lake.  Real is an MLS team that has deals with over 20 sponsors, with more than half of those being new for 2009.  Real Salt Lake has divided their sponsors into three categories based on dollars contributed (or traded) for their deal.  Real has landed a few sponsor partnerships which are offsetting costs associated with running a team or stadium.  Waste Management, Xinsurance, Cricket Wireless, Allied Sign and JetBlue are all sponsors of Real Salt Lake who can also provide a valuable service (in-kind) to the club.  By signing sponsors who can do that, the team can reduce their expenses.

These type of exchange of services sponsorship deals are nothing new.  In-fact I’ve traded tickets for sponsorships at events for well over a decade.  But with budgets tight in the current economy it makes a lot of sense for both teams and vendors to look into arrangements like this.

Real Salt Lake sponsorships:
Allied Sign
American First Credit Union
Burger King
Colonial Flag
Cricket Wireless
Fiji Water
Hoopes Vision
Les Olson Co
Mountain American Credit Union
Rocky Mountain Voice
Salt Lake Regional Medical Center
SCA paper
Siegfried & Jensen
Waste Management Inc
Workers Compensation Fund
Zions Bank
[Assist: Sports Business Daily]

Posted in Soccer, Sponsorship Deals, Sports Marketing, Stadium Pouring Rights, Stadium Signage, Venue Naming Rights | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

New Dallas Cowboys stadium called Cowboys stadium

Posted by ZA on May 13, 2009

This one was almost too predictable to even mention, but the Dallas Cowboys have decided to name their new stadium Cowboys Stadium.  The new Cowboys Stadium will host its first NFL football game this Fall.  It replaces Texas Stadium which was the home of the Dallas Cowboys in Irving for the past few decades.

The writing has probably been on the wall for some time on this decision.  I think Jerry Jones originally had visions of a 8 figure per year naming rights deal with AT&T or some other corporation.  When the economy tanked those deals dried up, which is why the Cowboys are going with a non-corporate name right now.  I expect Jerry will continue to shop a naming-rights deal to anyone corporations interested in partnering with “America’s Team”.  The opportunity to associate a corporate brand with one of the finest stadiums in the world is too great a chance for exposure to stay on the shelf for long.  I expect it’ll stay as Cowboys Stadium for the start of this season, but at some point this season or next Spring a major deal will be announced that provides some corporation with venue naming right for Cowboys Stadium.

Posted in New Venues, NFL, Venue Naming Rights | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Dolphins stadium naming rights deal model for future?

Posted by ZA on May 5, 2009

From the buzz going around it sounds like the Miami Dolphins will enter into a one-year stadium naming rights agreement with Anaheuser Busch product, Land Shark Lager.  How does Land Shark Lager have the clout to pull off a major venue naming coup like this?  Landshark beer is part of the marketing arsenal of legendary performer and South Florida native, Jimmy Buffett.  Buffett promotes Landshark Lager under the flag of his “Margaritaville” products.

A Land Shark Lager deal with the Dolphins would be historic for a couple of reasons:
1) It would be the shortest length of time ever cut for an NFL venue naming rights deal.
2) The deal would include an in-kind component, when these venue naming rights are typically just cash.  Jimmy Buffett would play two concerts at the newly named stadium; the team/venue would receive the majority of the profit from these shows as payment on the naming rights deal.

I imagine the one-year deal will be extended if successful.  Of course Land Shark might only want this year when both the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl will bring significant exposure to the South Florida venue.  But it is the fact the team is willing to do trade out on their stadium name that is truly amazing.  The team probably does not have many other suitors willing to step up, so doing this deal insures them revenue in the short-term.  While still keeping open their options for a long-term venue naming rights deal when the economy turns around.

The concerts that are part of the deal is unique, but mostly because an entertainer has never been involved in stadium naming rights.  Payments in kind have been used in many stadium deals, but they are typically only a small portion of the deal or for signage in the stadium, not the entire venue naming rights.  For example the New York Yankees agreed to a deal to include the Casio brand on the outfield wall in exchange for service.

How many other professional sports venues might look for a similar type deal?
Lots of them.  A short-term deal that gives them some cash now, but doesn’t block their ability to sign a more lucrative long-term partnership in near future is attractive to a lot of teams.  The current economy has put a freeze on naming-rights deals, which are a huge source of revenue for many teams.

The downside of these type of short-term naming rights is over exposure.  The risk to teams is that by renting their stadium name for a year they could scare off potential long-term partners who don’t want their company name associated with a revolving door.  The home of the San Francisco Giants (AT&T Park) changed names three times in six years due to acquisitions in the telecom industry, so many fans still refer to it with the original Pac Bell Park name. Corporations could shy away from venues where they think their brand association will be hard to connect due to frequent name changes.

But for teams without stadium naming rights deals the upside of these short-term deals could be too lucrative to pass up.  I’m sure many of them will be watching closely to see how the Dolphins fare in their deal with Land Shark beer.  As I’m certainly many corporations will be eyeing the success of the deal from a brand building perspective.  That is what makes this Land Shark Lager and Miami Dolphins partnership such a historic endeavor in venue naming rights spectrum.  Success will breed a lot of imitation, failure could end it for everyone.

Posted in NFL, Stadium Signage, Venue Information, Venue Naming Rights | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Will Citi walk on $400 million Mets deal?

Posted by ZA on February 3, 2009

Will Citigroup walk away from their 20-year, $400 million dollar to have the exclusive naming rights to the new baseball stadium of the New York Mets?

In a word, no.  There is no way that Citi could legally maneuver out of the deal unless they were able to become insolvent.  The Wall Street Journal reports that they looked into whether they could remove themselves from the deal, but I think that was just posturing to keep government regulators happy.  When Mets fans walk in for the 2009 home opener against the San Diego Padres on April 13th, they will be walking in under the Citi Field banner.

Posted in MLB, Venue Naming Rights | Leave a Comment »

Bold predictions for Sports Marketing in 2009

Posted by ZA on January 2, 2009

There were lots of changes in the sports marketing world in 2008.  So predictable, but many were one’s that no one saw coming.  With the global economy in a tailspin, cash is now king.  That means big changes are in-store for the world of sports marketing in 2009.  So what is coming in the sports marketing world for 2009.  Here are 7 bold predictions.


1. Tiger Woods signs with Mercedes (or BMW)
* He was dropped by Buick in 2008.  His agent said Tiger wouldn’t have a new car sponsor.  US automakers are in horrible shape, so look for one of these foreign car makers to make a run at Tiger. Mercedes stepped up and landed a spot in the Masters, so they are the favorite.  But don’t rule out BMW and even Lexus.

2. Wrigley Field gets a new name
* Actually I don’t think they’ll change the name, just add a presenting sponsor (e.g.- Rose Bowl presented by Citi). Tribune Company needs the cash and a Wrigley Field naming rights deal should bring in $20M+ annually (even in a down economy).  As to which company will pony up the cash, keep an eye on local Chicago corporations like McDonald’s.  It’s possible that the Big Mac will replace the Chicago style hot dog as the official food of Wrigley Field.

3. AIG defaults on Manchester United sponsorship
* There are a number of sponsorship deals that could go belly up, but I’m predicting AIG to be one of them.  AIG’s financial troubles brought them to the brink of bankruptcy before they were bailed out.  Their deal with Man United is $20M per year.  Some government auditor is going to force AIG’s hand on reigning in their spending, and the Man United deal gets cut (think Tiger Woods and Buick).  Not to worry Manchester United fans, there will be plenty of global companies eager to put their corporate name on the United kits.

4. Nascar will eliminate races
* For years Nascar has been the darling of the US sports world, growing faster than all of the other major professional sports leagues.  But the troubles in Detroit are going to take a big bite out of Nascar, forcing them to cancel a few races.  This will actually turn out to be a good thing as the attrition will make the races that remain that much stronger, think of it as addition by subtraction for Nascar.

5. Reebok brand is eliminated
* Not eliminated, but rather folded into Adidas so that all Reebok shoes/apparel/deals will now be Adidas.  Reebok’s sales were down in 2007, and soft 2008 sales will prompt Adidas to consolidate.  Since Reebok is already a subsidiary of Adidas Group, the change will be to convert Reebok into Adidas.  The move will eliminate jobs at Reebok and strengthen the Adidas brand which inherits deals with the NFL, NHL and MLB.  The Adidas logo will appear on NFL jerseys, rather than Reebok.  This type of brand changeover (consolidation) is not unheard of and already occurred when Adidas took over the NBA sponsorship from Reebok in 2006.   This cost cutting, brand building move is another move in the global sneaker wars between Adidas and Nike.

6. Under Armour acquired by Nike
* Nike’s reaction to Adidas taking out Reebok will be to acquire upstart Under Armour.  Under Armour is the new kid on the block in the sports apparel and shoes world, but UA has been growing fast and are preferred by a lot of kids today.  Plus, Under Armour is nearing $1B in annual sales so they have become a major player in the market.  Nike is flush with cash and looking to add to its roster of successful subsidiaries with already includes; Umbro, Converse, Hurley and Cole Haan.  Buying Under Armour ensures that Nike will remain popular with younger generations.  I don’t get the feeling that Under Armour wants to sell, but $5B to $10B offers are hard to turn down.

7. David Beckham goes back to Europe
* He came, we (barely) saw, he conquered (our wallets)…and now he leaves.  I was excited when he came to the LA Galaxy, but early injuries dampened that enthusiasm.  Since then it seems like Becks has spent more time socializing than playing soccer.  Now I think he goes back to England to finish his career in the EPL.  Overall, I think it was a positive for MLS that Beckham joined.  My hope is that the MLS will continue to add these type of players to provide a little more global appeal to the league.  Even aging stars on the tailend of their careers will bring more attention to the league.

Are the predictions bold?  Absolutely.  But the current market ensures there will big changes in 2009.  So bookmark these predictions and we’ll comeback next year to see which came true.

What do you predict will occur in the sports marketing world in 2009?

Posted in Apparel & Shoes, Endorsement Deals, Golf, Nascar, Sponsorship Deals, Sports Brands, Sports Marketing, Venue Naming Rights | 4 Comments »

Is local sports marketing the way to go during recession?

Posted by ZA on December 30, 2008

According to Richard Luker it is; his theory is that during tough economic times people have more of a connection to the teams in their community.  Luker theorizes that people’s connection to team’s in their community outweighs their feelings towards larger sports franchises.  He thinks that spending more sports marketing dollars on “small college and high school sporting venues” will bring a better return than those spent at the professional sports level.

Luker says, “Major League Baseball…is not about me.  Minor League Baseball is about me and my neighbors.  I can feel like I am with my community.”  He supports that with the statistics that MLB attendance was down last year while Minor League attendance was up.

I agree with Luker that people’s feelings towards their local (i.e.- smaller) team are more recession proof than those towards professional teams.  But I think price plays just a big of a factor in that as proximity.  Many fans choose local during tough economic times because it’s the more affordable choice.  The Dallas Cowboys game is appealing, but too expensive, so they choose the local high school football game because it is much more affordable.

For companies spending on professional sports sponsorships or local sports sponsorships the choice really comes down to what your goals are as a brand.  Large, national companies like Coca-Cola should spend on small & professional sports because both markets help to further their global brand.  Coca-Cola is focused on aligning itself with major league teams that provide national brand opportunities, but also can easily afford local spending to connect with those communities.

Whereas smaller, regional companies need to decide whether they potential national brand exposure of professional sports deals is necessary for their brand at their current stage.  Can they afford an NBA sponsorship?  Do they need to spend millions to put their name on an NFL stadium?  Many of them will do just as well funneling their dollars into local and regional sponsorships that get them affordable coverage in their core markets.

Whataburger is an example of a company that effectively used local and regional sports marketing opportunities to grow their brand.  The hamburger chain from Texas has over 700 locations across 10 states, but they continue to focus their spending on local opportunities.  Within their core Texas market Whataburger has aligned itself with High School football by sponsoring local teams and appearing in publications like Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, that cater to that market.  Those type of marketing deals have helped to align their brand with Texas State High School Football and made Whataburger a household name.  Whataburger even offers a page on their website where people can request sponsorship dollars or merchandise.

Whataburger keeps it local

Whataburger keeps it local

Whataburger has even embraced the theory Luker offers in-regards to sponsoring a Minor League Baseball team over a Major League team.  Rather than spending with lavishely to sponsor their homestate Houston Astros or Texas Rangers, Whataburger has gotten involved with Minor League clubs across Texas.  Including paying to put their name on the Corpus Christi double-A affiliate for the Astros, appropriately named Whataburger Field.

So yes, local sports marketing is absolutely the way to go.  But not just during a recession, it is something that companies should be making a commitment to all the time.  Start locally building your brand, and work your way up from there.  Once upon a time Coca-Cola was just a regional Georgia beverage, now they are a top global brand.

Posted in Sports Brands, Sports Marketing, Venue Naming Rights | Leave a Comment »