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New Orleans Arena officially beacame Smoothie King Center today after the Pelicans and the Louisiana-based chain "agreed to a 10-year naming rights deal that includes an option for the company to renew for an additional 10 years," according to John Reid of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. Pelicans President Dennis Lauscha said, "It's gigantic. Aside from the branding of the team, besides the practice facility, finding a naming rights partner was key to the long-term financial viability of this franchise in this market. We put it right at the top of the list of things that needed to be accomplished." Reid reports the deal is "believed" to be worth around $40M. Smoothie King HQs are in Metairie, La., and the company "has more than 650 locations" in the U.S. and Asia. The Pelicans "considered offers from two other undisclosed companies." But Lauscha said that Smoothie King "won out because it was a local company with aggressive growth plans similar to the franchise’s objectives." Smoothie King will get "worldwide exposure quickly" with the arena set to host the Feb. 16 NBA All-Star Game. Smoothie King President & COO Tom O'Keefe said that the brand will "have signs up with the new name" inside the arena for tomorrow's T'Wolves-Pelicans game. Reid notes prior to the deal getting league approval, the NBA hired an independent agency to test all of Smoothie King’s products in order to make sure they met the league's policy against banned supplements" (NOLA.com, 2/5). ESPN.com's Darren Rovell noted Smoothie King also will "have two kiosks that will serve smoothies at the venue's events." The entrance will "feature two 20-foot high Smoothie King cups that will be in place in time" for the All-Star Game. The company's logo also will "be on the roof of the arena" (ESPN.com, 2/5).
DEAL DETAILS: In Baton Rouge, Ramon Antonio Vargas notes Pelicans officials "portrayed Smoothie King’s sponsorship as the franchise’s latest move to independently generate revenue following a deal designed to free the state of Louisiana from making payments to the team each year." Lauscha said, "It’s a win-win on that (long-term) financial viability (of the team). It’s a win-win for the state of Louisiana -- and it’s really a win-win because it’s a Louisiana company that we’re dealing with here.” O'Keefe said the timing of the deal "was purposeful." Vargas notes the "process that culminated with Smoothie King kicked off last year" when O'Keefe "attended a downtown luncheon and sat next to" Pelicans and Saints Vice Chair Rita Benson LeBlanc. O’Keefe said that he "introduced himself to LeBlanc and expressed an interest in a corporate sponsorship" (Baton Rouge ADVOCATE, 2/6).
The MLB Rangers' 10-year naming-rights deal with Globe Life Insurance is "worth about" $50M over the life of the contract, making its $5M annual average "one of the most lucrative in baseball," according to a source cited by Evan Grant of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. Only the Mets ($20M per year), Astros ($6.36M) and Twins ($5M) have deals "with annual average values above" $4M per year. Rangers co-Chair Ray Davis said, “This is another long-term sustainable cash flow that will enable us to be competitive in the long term. Your turnstile revenue is variable depending on how your team is doing on the field. But when you have long-term sustainable income over 10 years, you’re able to make better decisions.” Grant notes the deal includes "a separate sizeable donation to the team’s charitable foundation and is expected to yield smaller sponsorship deals with at least two of the other finalists for the stadium naming rights." It is the "first trickle of what should be a significant stream of cash into the organization that will help offset the cash calls made of the ownership group over the last three years." After '14, the club’s "new TV deal with Fox Sports kicks in, which should nearly double those revenues" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 2/6). In Dallas, Kevin Sherrington writes until the "big money starts rolling in" from the Rangers' local TV deal, they "should consider the insurance money a bridge loan" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 2/6). Rangers Exec VP/Business Partnerships & Development Joe Januszewski said, "Looking at the deals done, I'd put us in the top two of any ballpark in baseball." MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan noted Globe Life also is "planning to make a substantial commitment to local youth baseball and softball programs through a grant partnership program with the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation." Januszewski: "That was one of the significant pros of this deal" (MLB.com, 2/5).
YOU'VE COME A LONG WAY, BABY: ESPN DALLAS' Richard Durrett wrote the naming-rights deal is "yet another sign of the Rangers positioning themselves to be annual contenders." The Rangers "sure have come a long way in 3½ years." The club that was "mired in bankruptcy court and eventually sold in auction to the current ownership group in August 2010 is now one of the most financially stable teams in the big leagues." If you couple the naming-rights deal with the "huge television deal signed a few years ago that kicks in next year, the Rangers are in solid shape financially." This ownership group has "made it clear that it wants a contender and has already showed that by opening the checkbook." So expect "most of the money generated from the sale of the naming rights to be put back into the club." While yesterday's news "was about a corporation putting its name on the ballpark, it should have a direct -- and positive -- impact on the front office" (ESPNDALLAS.com, 2/5). Januszewski said that the club "began aggressively courting naming-rights partners last summer, reaching out to hundreds of companies nationally and internationally before narrowing the search down to 'three very viable candidates with great offers.'" In Ft. Worth, Susan Schrock notes the length of the deal "coincides with the end of the Rangers’ 30-year lease on the ballpark with Arlington." The city-owned stadium opened in '94 (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 2/6).
IS NOTHING SACRED? In Ft. Worth, Mac Engel wrote of the Rangers ownership group, "Sorry -- on behalf of millions of your ticket-buying public who support the Texas Rangers, your stadium is still The Ballpark in Arlington. Doesn't mean you can't enjoy the check from Globe Life Insurance, but it does mean the vast majority of people who live in Fort Worth/Dallas will always call the home stadium 'The Ballpark.'" Engel: "Why did anyone think it was a good idea to announce this on National Signing Day -- unless they wanted to bury it?" (STAR-TELEGRAM.com, 2/5). But NBCSPORTS.com's Craig Calcaterra wrote under the header, "We're Not Getting Worked Up Over The New Name For The Rangers Ballpark Are We?" (NBCSPORTS.com, 2/5).