SBD/Issue 2/Facilities & Venues

Giants/Jets End Stadium Naming Rights Talks With Allianz

Giants And Jets Shut Down Stadium
Naming-Rights Talks With Allianz 
The Giants and Jets Friday said that they "had ended talks" with Germany-based insurance and financial services company Allianz about a potential naming-rights agreement for the teams' new $1.6B stadium, according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. The decision to end the talks "came after two days of largely negative reaction to the possibility of a deal with Allianz," which insured concentration camps during WWII. Meadowlands Stadium Co. President & CEO Mark Lamping: "We paid very close attention to what people were saying this week. Whether those opinions were expressed directly to us, or through the media, we paid attention and was one of many factors that went into our decision." Lamping and Allianz spokesperson Sabia Schwarzer noted that there had "never been a final deal for Allianz to pay $25[M] a year for naming rights." Schwarzer said Allianz' BOD last Tuesday decided it was "too early to decide on such a big financial commitment, that it was too large and it wanted more time to consider it.” Schwarzer "played down the impact of the criticism of the potential deal," indicating that the negative feedback "had not yet begun when the Allianz board expressed its need to spend more time evaluating the financial commitment." Sandomir wondered, "So if Allianz’s enthusiasm -- if not a signed deal -- was known to the teams, was the public reaction to its connections to the Nazis the final blow to the discussions?" Lamping said, "We didn’t isolate it that way. We looked at the collection of all the factors, including assessing where we were in the negotiations" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/13).

LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE: Lamping said that the "'depth of feeling' from the public led him to scuttle the potential sponsorship deal, and he broke the news to Allianz on Friday morning" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/13). Lamping: "It's fair to say that the reaction was strong and we certainly noticed that and it may have been a little stronger than we had expected." Anti-Defamation League National Dir Abraham Foxman said the decision "reflects that they are listening to the voices in the community, both from Holocaust family survivors and from veterans of the Second World War who don't believe that we can have normalcy" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 9/13). Giants Treasurer Jonathan Tisch, when asked to comment about the deal, said, "I'm not the spokesperson for the team, so you have to talk to others about that" (AP, 9/13).

LESSENING THE BLOW: On Long Island, Neil Best noted many companies, "foreign and domestic, have sordid histories, and many people buy their products without thinking twice." But this deal was different "partly because of the vileness of the history, partly because the name would have been emblazoned in big letters on a sports palace paid for with the help of fans via PSLs, a slap in the face too harsh to bear" (NEWSDAY, 9/14). In N.Y., Gary Myers wrote this "should be one of the greatest times ever" for football in N.Y., but "raising funds to pay for the [stadium] is the cause of an awful lot of aggravation and bitterness among their loyal fans." And news of the potential deal with Allianz "caused an uproar in the Jewish community in the New York area." For the Giants and Jets, "bowing to public pressure ... was the right thing to do, but it's still surprising it got that far." Giants co-Owner John Mara and Chair & Exec VP Steve Tisch and Jets Owner Woody Johnson "have taken a public relations beating over the last couple of months between the PSLs and Allianz" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/14).

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