Remember the days when you’d go to a stadium named after a person who was important to your team or one that was just named after the town you lived in? Those days are practically gone as more sports teams are allowing companies to have their names plastered on their stadiums, arenas and ballparks.
This is a practice that has been utilized by a variety of teams to not only raise money, but to help with paying off the huge cost of building a stadium in the first place. For instance, it cost around $400 million for the Milwaukee Brewers to build Miller Park. The team sold the naming rights of the park for $2.5 million a year to the Miller Brewing Company. As a result, the Brewers are getting plenty help from Miller to cover the operating expenses associated with the team.
This is not to say that every single sports team out there is actually going with this trend. For instance, the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs still play at Fenway Park and Wrigley Field. These two stadiums were named after people associated with their clubs.
Still, many teams are willing to break certain ties with history in order to make money. One example is in 2003 when the Chicago White Sox sold the name of Comiskey Park to U.S. Cellular. The White Sox get $4.1 million a year to have their stadium called U.S. Cellular Field.
But selling your stadium’s name isn’t always a worthwhile practice. The St. Louis Blues lost a good deal of money when Savvis went under. Also, the Houston Astros took a big PR hit after Enron went down. While the Savvis Center and Enron Field are now respectively sponsored by Scottrade and Minute Maid, the expenses associated with losing a deal really hurt. It’s clear that choosing a good sponsor is critical not only for monetary purposes but also to ensure that the name isn’t going to be a problem down the road.
This list is dedicated to the biggest stadium naming rights deals out there. These include deals that are not only worth millions each year but will also last for a long time. Interestingly enough, many of these places are in either New York or Texas, two of the largest sports markets in North America.
10. Atlanta Hawks – Philips Arena – $185 Million/20 Years
Philips, a prominent technology company, is paying $8.5 million a year to sponsor the Philips Arena in Atlanta. Philips has held the arena’s name since it opened in 1999. The arena is on the site that the Omni, the old arena for the Hawks, was based on. However, the arena has not been as busy as it was in recent years, as the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers left for Winnipeg in 2011. The Hawks and the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream are the only tenants left in this arena. Still, Philips’ deal will continue to operate until 2018 regardless of who plays at the stadium.
9. Dallas Mavericks/Stars – American Airlines Center – $195 Million/30 Years
The American Airlines Center is one of many stadiums to house both an NBA and NHL team. American Airlines is paying $6.5 million per year for the name of this stadium. The contract will expire in 2031. This is not the only stadium in the United States that American Airlines, the second-largest airline in the country, has the naming rights too. It also sponsors the American Airlines Arena in Miami. This arena is home to the NBA’s Miami Heat but American is only paying $42 million for 20 years to sponsor this stadium’s name. Also, the rights to this stadium will end in 2019, thus making the deal in Dallas much more valuable in the long run.
8. Brooklyn Nets – Barclays Stadium – $200 Million/20 Years
Brooklyn finally got a professional sports team for the first time since the Dodgers left for Los Angeles when the $1 billion Barclays Center opened in 2012. The Nets left nearby New Jersey to move into Brooklyn. In addition, the NHL’s New York Islanders will move from Long Island into the stadium at the start of the 2015 season. Barclays, a prominent banking company, is paying $10 million a year for the naming rights to this stadium. The stadium will likely become more prominent for Barclays when the Islanders make it their home in the near future.
7. Washington Redskins – FedEx Field – $205 Million/27 Years
While FedEx is only paying $7.59 million per year for the rights to the stadium that the Washington Redskins play in, it is a lengthy deal in that will last until 2026. The stadium, which is located in Landover, Maryland, is consistently sold out and gives FedEx plenty of exposure. However, it’s unclear as to what could happen to FedEx’s contract if the Redskins move to another stadium in the DC area someday. FedEx Field has been criticized for being difficult to move around in, with poor seating and a lack of access to the Metro transit system.
6. San Francisco 49ers – Levi’s Stadium – $220 Million/20 Years
The San Francisco 49ers will be moving from Candlestick Park to Levi’s Stadium in nearby Santa Clara in 2014. This $1.2 billion stadium will be sponsored by Levi Strauss and Co. The clothing manufacturer will pay the Giants $11 million a year for the $220 million naming rights to the stadium. In addition, there is an option for the plan to be extended by five years for $75 million more if Levi’s wishes to renew the deal. This will be a big move for the Niners as they have played at the Stick since 1971, a little more than a decade after the park opened.
5. New England Patriots – Gillette Stadium – $240 Million/30 Years
The New England Patriots play at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, a town located right in between the cities of Boston and Providence. Gillette, a personal care products company owned by Proctor and Gamble, came in to buy the naming rights to the stadium after CMGI pulled out following the crash of the dot-com market. Today, Gillette pays $8 million a year for the right to have its name on the stadium. The long deal makes it so that Gillette will continue to have its name on the stadium until the end of 2031.
4. Houston Texans – Reliant Stadium – $310 Million/31 Years
Reliant, an energy company that also sponsored the Astrodome’s name during its final years of operation, has a naming rights deal that covers the majority of the $352 million it cost to build the stadium in Houston. The Houston Texans are getting $10 million a year from Reliant for the rights to the stadium’s name. Amazingly, the annual revenue that comes in does not cover the entire cost of the stadium’s new scoreboard. This 14,500-square foot scoreboard cost a whopping $16 million to build. It’s the largest such scoreboard in the NFL. However, this stadium doesn’t have Texas’ largest naming rights deal.
3. New York Giants/Jets – MetLife Stadium – $400 Million/25 Years
The New York Giants and Jets football teams both moved into the $1.6 billion MetLife Stadium in 2010. While this stadium’s naming rights deal is at the same value as another New York Stadium, it sits at third on this list because it’s only for $16 million a year. This stadium’s name deal was not without controversy. Allianz was to have a deal that would have cost them close to $20 million a year, but the plan was dropped. This came after mass protests from the city’s Jewish community, as Allianz had ties with Nazi Germany during World War II. A large portion of the Giants and Jets’ season ticket base is Jewish and they threatened to cancel their plans if the Allianz deal went through.
2. New York Mets – Citi Field – $400 Million/20 Years
The New York Mets have one of the largest naming rights deals in all of sports as Citi is paying the team $20 million a year to own the name of the stadium. The high price tag is an effort to cover the $610 million cost of building the stadium in Flushing. However, there was concern over Citi’s sponsorship when it was accepted. Citigroup received a large amount of money from taxpayers from a bailout in 2008. To make things worse, the company cut 75,000 jobs that year. There was a great amount of debate over whether it was sensible for Citi to spend $400 million on a ballpark.
1. Dallas Cowboys – AT&T Stadium – $400 Million/20 Years
The $1.2 billion stadium that the Dallas Cowboys play at in Arlington, Texas has been known for being very large with enough space to fit 100,000 people and a massive scoreboard that’s sixty yards wide. The naming rights deal that was landed in 2013 is large to match. The Dallas Cowboys’ deal with AT&T for $20 million a year is the largest in sports because the Cowboys and AT&T have an option to expand it to thirty years and $600 million. This massive deal will give AT&T plenty of exposure, as it hosts many big events including the upcoming 2014 Final Four and the first college football playoff game in 2015.
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