SBJ/June 25-July 1, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

EMC close to MetLife cornerstone deal

EMC is close to completing a deal that would see the data storage and IT company become a cornerstone partner by taking naming rights to the lone remaining quadrant at MetLife Stadium.

Sources said terms of the agreement have been agreed upon except for category definitions and other final deal points, but that EMC was likely to take the wraps off the entrance gate agreement during training camp, which opens in late July.

EMC would join Pepsi, Anheuser-Busch and Verizon with its name on one of MetLife Stadium’s four gates.
Photo by: PATRICK E. MCCARTHY
Specific pricing could not be determined, but sources said Wasserman Media Group originally had been shopping the deal at anywhere from $7 million to $12 million a year, depending on category and which specific assets were packaged with the deal.

EMC would get a technology demonstration platform and pass-through rights along with an important hospitality/client entertainment vehicle with the Super Bowl coming to MetLife Stadium in 2014. EMC is looking to cash in within the sports sector, as even relatively new stadiums and arenas look to upgrade their information technology infrastructure for a generation of fans that count unfettered connectivity as a vital part of their experience in watching a live event.

“Their focus is on client entertainment, especially with a Super Bowl coming, and grabbing a piece of the business they see coming as every sports facility rewires for these new and growing bandwidth requirements,” said a party familiar with the deal.

Wasserman was selling stadium naming rights and the four cornerstone partnerships. However, two sources identified New York Giants CMO Mike Stevens as a key figure in landing the deal. Stevens declined to comment.

Other cornerstone partners at the stadium are Anheuser-Busch, Pepsi and Verizon. MetLife was a cornerstone partner until it acquired the stadium’s naming rights last August.

The stadium gate agreement will easily be the largest sports marketing expenditure for Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC. However, it is not unfamiliar with the territory. EMC has held naming rights to a premium club at Fenway Park since 2006, and the Red Sox wore an EMC patch on their uniforms when the team played a pair of games in Japan to open the 2008 MLB season. EMC is also the official information infrastructure provider to the New England Patriots and has a suite at Gillette Stadium, and has a similar deal with the Philadelphia Phillies.

As the IT needs of sports facilities become more complex, the competition among providers for sports assets will also. Although the category is still in its infancy when it comes to sports sponsorship, information technology hardware providers like Cisco have been active for some time. IT specialist High Point Solutions in New Jersey acquired naming rights to Rutgers’ refurbished football stadium. Prior to that, High Point was a sponsor of the New Jersey Nets, and it is a major sponsor of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

“Clearly, this [IT] is a business-to-business category, but branding really matters,” said High Point Solutions co-founder and President  Mike Mendiburu. “The funny story is that our relationship with the Nets started because my brother lived next to Jason Kidd. Since then, we have really gotten a lot of business out of it, including the Barclays Center, which is one of our largest projects. It gets your name out there and we found that having the use of the facility both for ourselves and our customers was a really effective business driver. It added credibility for us.”

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