SBD/October 4, 2011/Facilities

Mercedes-Benz, Saints Reach 10-Year Naming-Rights Agreement For Superdome

The Superdome will officially be called the Mercedes-Benz Superdome starting Oct. 23
The Saints and Mercedes-Benz yesterday announced that they “have reached a 10-year naming rights agreement that will turn the 36-year-old Louisiana Superdome into the Mercedes-Benz Superdome,” according to a front-page piece by Nakia Hogan of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. Saints, Mercedes-Benz and state officials “are expected to make the official announcement at a news conference” today at the Superdome, “where they'll unveil plans for the new signage in and around the stadium where the Mercedes-Benz name and logo will be featured prominently.” The city will be hosting the BCS National Championship game in January, the NCAA men's Final Four in April and the Super Bowl in '13. Those events and the “success and stature of the building's primary tenant -- the Saints -- helped persuade Mercedes-Benz to sign on.” Although financial terms “weren't available, the deal between the luxury automaker and the NFL franchise is expected to guarantee that the state will not pay the team any more direct subsidies.” In the current lease agreement, the Saints "get the first $1 million of net revenue from the naming rights deal, with a 50-50 split between the team and the state of the remaining revenue, although the state's share is in credits toward the subsidy payments, not cash." While the Saints' “top brass and marketing department were working feverishly to find a company to buy the naming rights,” Saints Owner Tom Benson’s wife Gayle “asked her husband why not give the German automaker a try.” Benson, a "longtime Mercedes dealer, talked with some of Mercedes-Benz's top decision-makers." He and his wife "even flew to Germany in April to meet with” Mercedes-Benz CEO Dieter Zetsche. A week later, Mercedes-Benz -- which "doesn't have its name on any sports buildings in North America, although it does have naming rights deals at a stadium in China and in Germany -- was ready to get a deal done" (New Orleans TIMES-PICUAYNE, 10/4). USA TODAY’s Woodyard & McCarthy note the name change “takes effect Oct. 23,” when the Saints host the Colts on NBC’s “SNF” (USA TODAY, 10/4). Sage Collective was involved in the naming rights negotiations and will manage the sponsorship (THE DAILY).

LOCAL FLAVOR: WDSU-NBC’s Fletcher Mackel said the Superdome is “arguably the most recognizable structure in the metro area, and though the stadium belongs to the state, the contract between Louisiana and the Saints gives the team control of sponsorship.” Mercedes-Benz is “jumping on-board at the right time” as the Superdome is set to host several high-profile sporting events. WDSU's Scott Walker said, “A rebranding more than a decade in the making” (WDSU-NBC, 10/3). WVUE-Fox’ Jennifer Hale said the deal “benefits taxpayers and furthers anchors the team” in New Orleans. The effort "to sell the naming rights to the Louisiana Superdome spans more than a decade” (WVUE-Fox, 10/3).
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