SBJ/Jan. 17-23, 2011/Facilities

New sponsor makes a giant impression at Penguins' arena

Don Muret
The Pittsburgh Penguins found the right fit for their newest sponsor, high-tech materials firm Bayer MaterialScience.

The company, one of three business groups that make up corporate parent Bayer, is presenting sponsor of the World’s Largest Goalie Mask on the main concourse outside Section 120 at Consol Energy Center, near the First Niagara Club. The firm produced the lightweight protective plastic materials used to make the mask, measuring 9 1/2 feet tall, 8 feet wide and 12 feet deep. The same is true for a 30-foot-tall companion hockey stick.

The attractions anchor the arena’s Science of Sport display, which features kiosks showing educational videos explaining the physics of hockey. All “vignettes” contain Bayer MaterialScience’s “Science for a Better Life” message, said Sean Kelly, a company spokesman.

The Penguins had tried to get Bayer MaterialScience, whose North American headquarters are in the Steel City, on board as a corporate partner for several years, but it wasn’t until the new arena project came along that company officials saw the right opportunity to promote the brand, Kelly said.

David Peart, Penguins vice president of business partnerships, said: “The concept of Science of Sport was developed specifically for Bayer MaterialScience based on a number of meetings with them. After we worked to understand their overall objectives, we developed this [deal] as the primary activation element for them.”

Consol Energy Center’s giant goalie mask is made with materials from Bayer MaterialScience.
The five-year agreement, valued in the mid-six figures annually, was completed in late November. Those sponsorship dollars cover the $200,000 to $250,000 cost to develop the mask and the stick, Peart said.

Bayer MaterialScience, part of the larger company founded in 1863, does some advertising at PNC Park, home of the MLB Pirates, but this is the first time it has developed a team partnership that goes deeper than just putting a sign up at a sports facility, Kelly said.

The company also sponsors the Penguins’ environmental programs, which include public and private tours of the arena’s green design features tied to the facility’s LEED gold certification. For school groups, the team is developing a special tour called Behind the Green, where students can learn more about LEED initiatives.

All tours, which will be conducted three times a week by Consol Energy Center manager SMG, will start in early February.

Dimensional Innovations, a Kansas City graphic design company, and James Frederick, the arena’s art consultant, were principally involved in the Science of Sport project. Dimensional Innovations also developed the building’s branded kids zone and all-time team displays. Noted NHL helmet artist David Arrigo painted the mask.

WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY: The recession has cost many sports designers their jobs, but it provided Jim Edson a chance to leave a much bigger firm on his own accord to join forces with a former co-worker.

Edson was an associate principal at Populous specializing in college sports. In August, he made the decision to cut ties with the company and team up with Patrick Lempka, who was laid off by the same firm in May 2009.

Together, they formed Lempka Edson Architects in Kansas City and are putting the finishing touches on the design of a new 6,500-seat civic arena on Navajo Indian land in Window Rock, Ariz.

Both had aspirations of striking out on their own and designing a project together. Lempka, after completing some contract work for 360 Architecture’s sports complex project in Iraq, won the $32 million Window Rock deal last February.

Edson, meanwhile, had three college projects in development at Populous, including a renovation of Georgia Tech’s Alexander Memorial Coliseum, when he made the bold move to quit and team with Lempka.

“The forecast for projects was slowing down [at Populous] and the amount of work in the whole office was slowing down quite a bit when I made the decision to leave,” Edson said. “It was a little bit risky, but it seemed like the right time to get the firm going.”

Don Muret can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @breakground.

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