SBJ/September 3-9, 2012/Facilities

Bears’ high-end suite renamed

The Chicago Bears have signed a three-year deal with Zurich Insurance for naming rights to the Skyline Suite, a premium group space tied to the team’s most expensive ticket at Soldier Field.

Chris Hibbs, the Bears’ vice president of sales and marketing, refused to disclose financial details but he did say the deal is below seven figures in annual value. Zurich’s agreement as an official Bears partner is one level below the team’s Hall of Fame category, Hibbs said.

A ticket in the Zurich Skyline Suite at Soldier Field runs $875 a game.
Photo by: CHICAGO BEARS
Zurich North America’s headquarters are in Schaumburg, Ill., a northwest Chicago suburb, and the company has a 100-year history in the Chicago market. As the name implies, Zurich’s worldwide headquarters are in Switzerland.

The company also has a strong connection to Soldier Field. Zurich insured construction of the stadium when it opened in 1924 and its $606 million reconstruction, completed in 2003. Those links are illustrated on suite wall graphics with the tag line, “We Helped Make It Happen.”

The tie-in with Soldier Field made sense for a company that up to now “has not had a very public face in terms of a branding perspective,” said Jeremy Ahto, Zurich North America’s head of brand marketing.

Most of its marketing focus is on charitable causes, Ahto said. In sports, Zurich has signs on a suite level at United Center, home of the Bulls and Blackhawks. In golf, it has sponsored the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, a PGA Tour event, since 2005.

At Soldier Field, the Zurich Skyline Suite puts the company’s name in front of Bears fans as a reminder of its stature as the world’s largest underwriter of construction projects, Ahto said. Elsewhere, Zurich is underwriting Madison Square Garden’s $1 billion renovation.

Zurich, a public company, generated $4.3 billion in revenue for 2011. The company employs about 60,000 people serving customers in more than 180 countries and territories, Zurich spokeswoman Jennifer Nowacki said.

Zurich previously bought six tickets for the Skyline Suite, where talks with the Bears on naming rights first began, Ahto said. Roughly half of the suite’s 183 patrons are corporate clients, Hibbs said. The remaining 50 percent are individual season-ticket holders.

Those tickets cost $875 a person for each game for an all-inclusive package covering the cost of food and drink, including beer, wine and hard liquor. The suite has three rows of indoor seats with cooking stations and lounge space in a room with a total of 7,725 square feet.

As part of the deal, Zurich receives game-day exposure on LED signs in the seating bowl and advertisements in the Bears’ game program. The company also gets use of the suite on non-event days for sales meetings, Hibbs said.

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