SBD/Issue 84/Facilities & VenuesPrint All
Expos Changing Olympic Stadium
Surface Following MLB Mandate
The Expos yesterday announced installation of FieldTurf and the renewal of a one-year lease for the '04 season in Olympic Stadium (Expos). In Montreal, Stephanie Myles reports that the Expos "had no choice but to replace the surface" after the MLBPA "mandated the change." The union has been "swamped with complaints" about the existing AstroTurf. Expos Exec VP/Business Affairs Claude Delorme noted that the decision came down to FieldTurf and PureGrass, but PureGrass was only available for purchase and FieldTurf "agreed to an advertising and visibility-based rental option similar to what the Expos had for the previous surface." Delorme: "FieldTurf, from a baseball perspective, is a better surface. ... The bounce is closer to natural grass, it slows down the speed of the ball and it's non-abrasive from a safety standpoint. ... I think the players are going to appreciate it" (Montreal GAZETTE, 1/21).
Jets’ Proposed West Side
Stadium Cramping MSG’s Style
CRAIN'S N.Y. BUSINESS reported, "Insiders say the management of Madison Square Garden is considering announcing that it is opposed to a Jets stadium on Manhattan's far West Side. The two venues would sit just four blocks apart, and MSG executives believe that a new stadium would siphon off events." One source said, "The feeling is that there isn't enough demand at all and that the stadium would compete" (CRAIN'S N.Y. BUSINESS, 1/19).
CHARLOTTE: Lowe's Motor Speedway will spend over $6M on improvements to the infield, including a new media center, bathrooms and showers, a new Busch garage, new concessions and souvenir shop, catering area and a new Victory Lane (THE DAILY)....The Charlotte City Council yesterday unanimously approved a redevelopment plan for the Charlotte Coliseum which calls for a mix of offices, housing and shopping. Crescent Resources Duke Energy's land-development arm as part of the funding for a new arena promised to pay $24M for the site. But the "company wanted more office development than the council allowed, leaving open the question of how much Crescent will bid" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 1/21).
GIMME SHELTER: As the retractable roof at Reliant Stadium will be closed during the Super Bowl regardless of conditions, ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, "I like it open because if you're going to build a stadium with a retractable roof you build it so you have the option of hello? opening the roof. If it's 60 degrees and clear on Super Bowl Sunday in Houston they should open the roof. ... They have a flyover. You can't see the flyover if the roof is closed" ("PTI," ESPN, 1/20).
Bright House Networks Putting
Its Name On New Ballpark
New York-based cable TV and high-speed internet provider Bright House Networks, a Time Warner subsidiary, has purchased the naming rights for the Phillies' new $28M spring training facility opening this season in Clearwater, Florida. The agreement is for an initial term of ten years plus two five-year renewal options. Financial terms were not disclosed (Phillies). In St. Pete, Bob Putnam reports Bright House will pay the Phillies $1.7M over 10 years. Clearwater Parks & Recreation Dir Kevin Dunbar said that the city of Clearwater will receive "roughly $35,000 in the first year" including "annual payments that grow over time." Phillies Dir of Florida Operations John Timberlake said that he "spoke with as many as 120 companies with local ties, including Publix, Checkers, Eckerd Drugs, Hooters and Outback, before pitching seriously to 12." Timberlake started negotiating with Bright House in May (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 1/21).
By Kris Johnson, Staff Writer, The Sports Business Daily
Yowell Believes BofA Overpaid As Compared
To Lincoln Financial’s Deal In Philly
With the Panthers advancing to Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston, THE DAILY asked industry analysts about Bank of America's announcement last Friday of a 20-year naming-rights pact with the NFC champion, which will reportedly pay the team $7M annually. THE DAILY wondered if the experts see it as a good deal for BofA, which already has a leading brand presence in Charlotte. Could emotion have been a driving force behind this deal? How would a Panthers' Super Bowl victory enhance its value?
WAS THE PRICE RIGHT? Gemini Sports CEO & President Rob Yowell said, "(BofA) overpaid for Ericsson Stadium by nearly two times its market value. The fact that BofA paid the same price to rename an eight-year-old facility with  NFL games and a bowl game in Charlotte as what Lincoln Financial paid for a new stadium with twice as many events in a larger DMA of Philadelphia speaks for itself." Yowell added, "This was not a deal of necessity for BofA, but perhaps a move made to overshadow Wachovia's growing presence in the market." But Univ. of South Carolina Sport & Entertainment Business Chair Tom Regan thinks the deal is a good investment for BofA: "The price is correct for a mid-major market. Charlotte is a financial center, and the naming rights is approximately .0875% of their marketing budget. The deal will supplement the national image of BofA." The Bonham Group Chair & CEO Dean Bonham: "My experience with financial institution sponsorships leads me to believe (BofA was) particularly attentive to the cost/value ratio that the deal generates and the establishment of a high-profile connection with the NFL." Gilco Sports Dir of Business Development David Cope noted it is difficult to judge the value of the price without knowing the particulars.
REINFORCEMENT: Regan acknowledged BofA's brand presence in Charlotte "is strong - but they aren't Coke or GM. The consolidation of the financial markets has caused some confusion on the regional and national levels. Who owns who? Therefore, they need to continually establish branding." Bonham added, "By sewing up the NFL team and the most important sports facility in its own backyard, the deal has the effect of protecting BofA from encroachment by a competing entity in its category." Yowell noted, "With the brand already known and respected in the region, creativity will be the key to success."
Super Bowl XXXVIII Title Would Add
Marketing Ammunition For BofA
EVERYONE LOVES A WINNER: Cope, on the timing of the deal, "I don't think it's a coincidence that the deal was negotiated during a season when the Panthers were playing well and winning, and announced prior to the NFC Championship game." But Cope added, "Having some relationships with BofA and knowing how sophisticated they are in their sports marketing, it was much more than an emotional buy. ... They're doing this for a business reason." Bonham concurred: "The Panthers' success may have accelerated the process, but this was not an emotional buy. This has probably been in the works for some time and will certainly be in effect for a long time to come. ... The emotional component was negligible." Yowell: "The Panthers winning this year is an added bonus, but I do not believe this deal was influenced by this year's success. ... This is simply a 'boardroom deal' between BofA execs and the team not even a negative recommendation from BofA's sponsorship group would have prevented this deal from closing."
TO THE VICTOR GO THE SPOILS? Should the Panthers defeat the Patriots to win the first Super Bowl title in franchise history, Yowell said it will "add a nice marketing angle for next season's promotion of the BofA relationship. ... It may get a few more games on the national time slots with the Panthers' success, but unless the stadium hosts a Super Bowl or BCS title game in the future, I don't foresee any significant enhancement of the deal for BofA." Bonham: "It's hard to quantify that value. Being a sponsor of a Super Bowl champion will unquestionably add luster to the deal via increased media exposure, credibility enhancement, etc., but BofA will want to leverage that exposure through a judicious use of ads, special events, player appearances. Remember though, this is a long-term investment that will pay dividends based on long-term strategic thinking and a commitment to derive and deliver value from both parties."
COMING TOMORROW: Our analysts address activation efforts around Reliant Energy's naming rights deal and what the company can expect in terms of measurable gains during the Super Bowl fortnight in Houston.