17 September 2008

What's in a stadium name?

The Minnesota Twins announced the naming rights sponsor for their new outdoor ballpark: Target. The deal is for 25 years. Financial terms weren't announced, but it's likely the deal is worth at least $100 million for that period.

If you're wondering why Target Field sounds familiar, that's probably because the downtown arena named Target Center is just across Interstate 394 from the ballpark site. The two venues will be linked by an above ground (and freeway) public area called Target Plaza. A series of pre-existing parking garages also stand above the freeway.

I was curious as to how many other companies have their names scrawled on multiple venues. So I did a quick search on Wikipedia to get the lists of American arenas and stadia. When I culled the list, an interesting pattern emerged: companies with multiple naming rights deals are generally in the telecommunications, transportation, and financial services industries. To wit:

  • AT&T Bricktown Ballpark (Oklahoma City)
  • AT&T Center (San Antonio)
  • AT&T Field (Chattanooga)
  • AT&T Park (San Francisco)
  • Jones AT&T Stadium (Lubbock, TX)
  • Alltel Arena (North Little Rock)
  • Alltel Center (Mankato, MN)
  • formerly Alltel Stadium (Jacksonville)
American Airlines
  • American Airlines Center (Dallas)
  • AmericanAirlines Arena (Miami)
Bank of America
  • Bank of America Arena (Seattle, U of W)
  • Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte)
  • Citibank Ballpark (Midland, TX - A's AA affiliate)
  • Citi Field (Queens)
  • FedExField (DC-area)
  • FedExForum (Memphis)
Fifth Third Bank
  • Fifth Third Field (Dayton)
  • Fifth Third Field (Toledo)
  • Fifth Third Ballpark (Comstock, MI)
  • Fifth Third Arena (Cincinnati)
  • Ford Arena (Beaumont, TX)
  • Ford Center (Oklahoma City)
  • Ford Field (Detroit)
  • PNC Field (Moosic, PA)
  • PNC Park (Pittsburgh)
  • Qwest Arena (Boise)
  • Qwest Center Omaha (Omaha)
  • Qwest Field (Seattle)
  • Reliant Arena (Houston)
  • Reliant Stadium (Houston)
  • Target Center (Minneapolis)
  • Target Field (Minneapolis)
  • Toyota Center (York, PA)
  • Toyota Center (Houston)
  • Toyota Center (Kennewick, WA)
  • Toyota Park (Bridgeview, IL)
U.S. Cellular
  • U.S. Cellular Arena (Milwaukee)
  • U.S. Cellular Center (Cedar Rapids, IA)
  • U.S. Cellular Coliseum (Bloomington, IL)
  • U.S. Cellular Field (Chicago)
  • Verizon Center (Washington, DC)
  • Verizon Wireless Arena (Manchester, NH)
  • Wachovia Arena (Wilkes-Barre, PA)
  • Wachovia Center (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Wachovia Spectrum (Philadelphia, PA)
Wells Fargo
  • Wells Fargo Arena (Tempe, AZ)
  • Wells Fargo Arena (Des Moines, IA)
There's the potential for diluting the brand by slapping a corporate name on multiple venues, but the strategy is clear: target specific markets or regions that you can either claim as your homestead or venture into new markets where you can try to gain a foothold. In American Airlines' case, they dealt with two markets where they have huge hubs. Wachovia and Comcast focused on their relative strength in Pennsylvania (though Comcast got a package deal with they ponied up for both the new and old arena). AT&T inherited deals made by its former corporate name, SBC. All told, the value of the deals named above approach $1 billion.

Over in the Tri-State area, the Yankees and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority are grappling with naming rights issues. The Yankees are under pressure to preserve the name Yankee Stadium, despite the $1.3 billion price tag. Across the Hudson, the Authority recently fielded an offer from German insurance giant Allianz. Area Jewish groups protested the possible deal due to Allianz' WWII-era Nazi ties, forcing the deal to be nixed. Coincidentally, Allianz has its name on a massive stadium in Munich, Allianz Arena. Its architect, Herzog & de Meuron, also drew up the Beijing National Stadium, a.k.a. the "Bird's Nest."


Zonis said...

This does bring us back to the old conversation piece; what Corperate Names make good or acceptable stadium names, since most of them do not.

I personally think that Cisco Field is a good name for a ballpark, as did the name Pac Bell Park, though that is now nixed. Same goes for Wrigley Field.

I think the pattern is simple; Company names that are also Surnames or associated with places work well, the others most likely will not. And then there's always the whole team name stadium.

McAfee Coliseum? Network Associates Coliseum? Monster Park? AT&T Park? Crappy names.

Anonymous said...

I agree Zonis. Often it's just luck of the draw whether a particular corporation's name sounds good or not on a stadium. Your examples of good ones are, well, good. Great Western Forum was another. Somehow, they sound like a proper name, even though they are corporate. Not some hackneyed, tacked-on name like virtually all the examples ML found in Wikipedia.