SBJ/March 13-19, 2017/Facilities

Team thinks area’s tourism will help drive naming-rights deal for stadium

Orlando City Stadium has opened its doors without naming rights, but Orlando City SC officials remain confident that an agreement will be reached, said Rob Parker, the team’s vice president of corporate partnerships.

The club is asking for $4 million to $6 million a year, on par with the two most recent MLS naming-rights deals, for Banc of California Stadium (Los Angeles Football Club) and Audi Field (D.C. United).

Orlando has a key bargaining chip as one of the world’s top tourist destinations — it drew 66 million visitors in 2015 — making it attractive for any potential naming-rights partner, team owner Flavio Augusto da Silva said.

Orlando City SC had been in contract negotiations with two different parties during the past year, but neither deal made it to the finish line, Parker said.

“We’re still having good conversations with others,” he said. “We’ve had offers that we’ve turned down. We’re not rushing it. We’ve seen a true shift in the value of MLS naming rights in those past two deals and we see ourselves very much in that same light. It has to be at that value or we won’t entertain it.”

Said Silva: “People get anxious about [naming rights] and I’m no different, for obvious reasons. But we have to be calm because it’s a 10- to 15-year commitment. We’re being careful because we understand MLS is growing and its assets are increasing in value. It’s important that we close the best deal possible for the club.”

Orlando City SC hired Impression Sports & Entertainment to help sell naming rights, and the club is also working on its own to find a partner, Parker said.

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