SBD/August 24, 2011/Facilities

MetLife Stadium Signs To Be Unveiled By NFL Regular-Season Opener

MetLife's naming-rights agreement believed to be largest in NFL
The $1.6B and now one-year-old New Meadowlands Stadium “will be known as MetLife Stadium for at least the next 25 years, with four permanent signs set to be unveiled outside the building by the stadium's Sept. 11 regular-season opener between the Jets and the Cowboys,” according to Aditi Kinkhabwala of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Stadium President & CEO Mark Lamping “refused to divulge any financial details.” Giants President & CEO John Mara said that it is “his understanding this is the largest naming rights deal in the NFL, and will ultimately help to pay down the debt from the privately financed stadium.” Mara admitted that he was “surprised that the deal ‘took this long,’ and said the final numbers were less than he, fellow owner Steve Tisch and Jets owner Woody Johnson projected three years ago.” But he said, "We're very fortunate given what's going on in the economy and given the lack of naming rights deals done elsewhere in the country" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/24). MetLife CEO Steven Kandarian said that the lure of the facility hosting the Super Bowl in ’14 “was an added benefit.” He said that without the championship game MetLife “still would have done the deal ‘but perhaps for a different price.’” A source said that the rights package “would be around $400 million, less than the record $23.3 million a year Farmers Insurance Group said it would pay” AEG to name a proposed NFL stadium in downtown L.A. It also would be less than Citigroup’s deal to name Citi Field and Barclays’s agreement for Barclays Center (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 8/23). In N.Y., DeCambre & Hubbach note not only is the “size of the naming-rights deal less than what had been expected, but MetLife, under the deal, will get to keep its $7 million-a-year cornerstone partnership deal -- which grants it lots of additional stadium signage -- until the teams snag a new placement deal” (N.Y. POST, 8/24). 

MET BENEFIT: MetLife CMO Beth Hirschhorn said that there were three reasons for the company’s naming-rights deal: the “media exposure that a stadium in the New York market with two NFL teams and a Super Bowl in 2014 can bring; for the connection that it will have with fans; and for the dynamism that football brings to the stodgy world of life insurance.” In N.Y., Richard Sandomir notes among the other companies "solicited beside MetLife were the stadium’s other cornerstone partners: Bud Light, Verizon and Pepsi." The deal was “signed in time for announcers to start calling it MetLife Stadium for Saturday night’s Jets-Giants game, but it will be a few weeks until the four giant illuminated signs outside the stadium will be erected,” and at MetLife’s section of the stadium, a “statue of Lucy Van Pelt trying to throw a pass” (N.Y. TIMES, 8/24). Mara said that the Jets and Giants were “comfortable with MetLife as a title partner, based on their existing relationship, as well as knowing ‘that 10 years from now the company won't be out of business’" (Bergen RECORD, 8/24).
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