06 July 2005

"Insert your company's name here" Arena

Companies are playing hardball with Arena from the SF Chronicle.

The article highlights the Coliseum Authority's continuing struggle to find a naming rights' sponsor for the Oakland Arena.

The Bonham Group represents the fifth attempt at securing sponsorship in eight years. The Warriors tried their hand beginning in 1997 when they signed their 20-year lease to play at the Arena. The team struck out and the Coliseum Authority took over the search, only to whiff on three separate pitches.

The Warriors resumed the hunt when the two sides settled their legal issues in 2003, agreeing to share the revenue from any sponsorship deal. They hired the Bonham Group 18 months ago to begin looking anew. Again, and this could be the hardest sell yet.

Bonham said it himself in 2001: "If you've taken the product to corporate America and corporate America said, 'No,' you're basically damaged goods," he told The Chronicle then. "It's a lot harder to reopen doors than to open doors. "

Part of this comes from the fact that the Arena, despite its renovation, is still not considered "new." Add to that the Warriors lackluster performance until recently and the HP Pavilion's better track record for attracting shows and events, and it becomes difficult to get a company to pony up $1 million or more per season for naming rights. It becomes a vicious cycle as well, as the revenue shortfall that comes from not having the name sold forces the Authority to drive up costs on Arena events, push even more acts to San Jose instead.

Worse, should a ballpark start construction in the next 2-3 years in the East Bay, it would probably give naming rights bidders pause since a "new" venue may be considered sexier than a refurbished one. It could also drive down the price of naming rights for both venues.