SBD/February 6, 2014/Facilities

Pelicans Ink 10-Year Arena Naming-Rights Deal With Louisiana-Based Smoothie King

Smoothie King signs are expected to be in place at the arena by Friday
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).
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