SBJ/May 26-June 1, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

Premier Partnerships to market Atlanta stadium naming rights

Editor’s note: This story is revised from the print edition.

Premier Partnerships has won an agency shootout to sell naming rights and other top-tier sponsorships at the $1.2 billion new retractable-roof stadium in Atlanta, scheduled to open in 2017.

Both the NFL Falcons and a still-nameless MLS expansion franchise will play at the venue when the new stadium opens, although an MLS game is slated to be the building’s first event. Officials on hand for last week’s groundbreaking were hopeful of attracting world-class events, including FIFA World Cup matches and a Super Bowl.

Photo by: 360 ARCHITECTURE
Atlanta last hosted an NFL championship game in 2000, and while it was arguably the most exciting Super Bowl ever (St. Louis-Tennessee), those who were there also have memories of an ice storm that rendered the city’s Super Bowl Week even more miserable than the ice-encrusted Super Bowl Week in and around Dallas in 2011.

The Falcons’ new home will

Other inventory at the stadium, where ground was broken last week, includes an innovative LED ribbon board above the field.
Photo by: AP IMAGES

be next to the Georgia Dome, which has housed the team since 1992.

While the official groundbreaking for the new stadium was just last week, Premier and the Falcons have been making pitches to local and national marketers since early this year.

Premier President and CEO Randy Bernstein was mum on pricing, but other industry sources said the team was looking for a 30-year deal averaging in the high teens annually. Those same sources said Premier beat out CAA Sports and Legends among others agencies for the assignment.

Premier handled the 2011 naming-rights deal that rebranded what was once the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum to O.co Coliseum. However, the Atlanta assignment is the first time Premier is the lead sales agency for a new NFL stadium.

“This is a dream project for any agency,” Bernstein said. “Being able to create a commercial program at a new facility from the ground up will hopefully allow us to set some standards for NFL stadiums.”

Working with the Falcons’ Jim Smith (executive vice president, chief marketing and revenue officer) and Tim Zulawski (vice president, sponsorship sales and service), Premier’s assignment goes beyond naming rights. It also will sell sponsorships bearing an “elite” level moniker, some b-to-b deals, and some naming rights on various parts of the facility, along with team inventory from the Falcons and the embryonic MLS team.

Smith could not be reached for comment.

Included among the signage offerings will be a 360-degree LED ribbon board around the top of the stadium that will encompass an astounding 66,000 square feet.

> WORLD CUP GOLD: While Sports Endeavors (operator of soccer.com and lacrosse.com) administers the official online store for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, licensed sports e-retailer Fanatics.com is teaming with longtime FIFA World Cup sponsor McDonald’s for the QSR’s largest North American World Cup promo ever. A June/July on-pack instant-win promotion in 15,000 locations will involve more than 200 million instant-game pieces offering discounts on any licensed merchandise at Fanatics.com.

A weekly sweepstakes will offer trips to the World Cup Final in Brazil.

Alliance Marketing Partners is the sports marketing agency for Fanatics.com, which sells thousands of different licensed World Cup items despite its less-than-official status with soccer’s governing body.

Chang
> COMINGS & GOINGS: Former Wasserman Media Group client and 2013 SBJ/SBD Forty Under 40 winner Alex Chang joins WMG as a vice president a short time after leaving IMG in a similar role. While at American Express for 13 years, Chang worked with WMG, but we’re told he won’t be servicing that account in his new position. … Andrew Shahadi moves to Engine Shop experiential sports, entertainment and lifestyle marketing agency, where he’ll supervise the Mercedes-Benz account. Shahadi was most recently a vice president at GroupM ESP. Before that, he was with MasterCard, Genesco and Momentum. … After an eight-month “sabbatical” with licensed watch marketer Game Time, former NFLer Tom Weiner returns to licensed photo marketer Photo File as senior vice president for sales and business development. Weiner said the company is looking for strategic partners to increase distribution and possibly for a foray into entertainment licensing.

Terry Lefton can be reached at tlefton@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

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