SBJ/October 30 - November 5, 2006/Facilities

Chiefs nearing a decision on selling naming rights to stadium


The Kansas City Chiefs are asking fans how they would react to a name change for 34-year-old Arrowhead Stadium as the team considers whether it should sell the naming rights.

Officials will make the decision in the next few weeks after completing a series of random telephone calls and e-mails asking their best customers and Chiefs fans in general for input, said Bill Newman, Chiefs senior vice president of administration.

Naming rights is one part of a survey the Chiefs are using to gauge fan response on a variety of issues. The Chiefs are “looking for a consensus” on naming rights before making a move, Newman said.

“We want to preserve Arrowhead in the name,” he said. “It would be like [Invesco Field at] Mile High.”

The Denver Broncos played 41 seasons at Mile High Stadium before moving to Invesco Field at Mile High in 2001 after the financial services firm paid $60 million for naming rights. The Metropolitan Football Stadium District, that stadium’s landlord, did the deal and kept the name Mile High in the official title to appease many Broncos fans unhappy that the new facility would be named after a company.

In Kansas City, naming rights would take effect in 2009-10 after a $325 million stadium makeover is completed, Newman said.

Marketer E.J. Narcise, co-owner of Team Services, thinks keeping Arrowhead Stadium as part of the venue’s name would not dilute its value in a market where the Chiefs dominate the sports landscape. The Chiefs could get up to $7 million annually, Narcise said.

The Chiefs would like to preserve the stadium’s
name, even if a corporate name is added.

“Look at the history of the season-ticket base, merchandise sales and how they command the marketplace,” he said. “Not too many teams can say that. The Chiefs are one of the NFL’s top 10 brands.”

The Chiefs own the rights to sell naming rights for the facility as part of the 25-year lease extension the team signed this year with the Jackson County Sports Authority, the stadium’s landlord.

The Chiefs collected proposals from third-party firms interested in helping the club sell naming rights and have talked to IMG, Premier Partnerships and Team Services, Newman said.

The Chiefs have already decided to sell naming rights to an expanded club level that will be enclosed as part of the stadium improvements, as well as to gate entrances, quadrants and other spaces, Newman said.

Naming-rights revenue would help the Chiefs pay the $75 million they committed for the renovation. The team is responsible for construction cost overruns and pays the sports authority $450,000 rent annually through Jan. 31, 2031.

“What is obvious is the cost of operating an NFL franchise continues to escalate and we have to remain competitive in one of the NFL’s smallest markets,” Newman said.

HEERY COMES: Dallas city officials tentatively selected architect Heery International and Charter Builders, its in-house contractor, to complete a $30 million seating expansion project at the Cotton Bowl.

The Dallas Park and Recreation Department board was scheduled to vote on the selection last Thursday. If approval is given, the City Council will act on the measure Nov. 8, the department’s Louise Elam said.

Heery designed a $54 million seating expansion at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin in 1999.

The plan for the Cotton Bowl, where Texas plays Oklahoma every year, is to replace 68,000 flipback seats with bench seating and add 8,000 new seats in each end zone.        

Don Muret can be reached at dmuret@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

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