SBJ/July 17-23, 2017/Marketing and Sponsorship

Dodgers asking $12 million a year for naming rights to field

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Commercialism has seeped into MLB’s historical ballparks with signage amid the ivy at Wrigley Field and ads splashed across the Green Monster at Fenway Park.

Now, America’s third-oldest MLB venue is looking to defy MLB’s legacy as the most traditional sport even more aggressively by selling naming rights to the field in Chavez Ravine, home to the Los Angeles Dodgers since 1962. Numerous industry sources tell us that Dodger Stadium’s field — thus, it would be X Corp. Field at Dodger Stadium — has been on the market since early spring with an asking price of $12 million per season.

Sources tell us Entitle, the joint-venture naming-rights firm formed this year by Cooper Holdings (the former CSE) and Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, is quietly selling the package for the Dodgers, with BS&E Executive Vice President Mike Zavodsky taking the lead. BS&E CEO Brett Yormark would not comment on the matter.

The Dodgers have brought in Entitle to sell the package.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
Certainly, any property can command a premium for a first-time sale, but it’s still interesting to note that $12 million is considerably more than many MLB ballparks and NHL arenas are seeking for the second or third round of naming rights. The competition also bears examination: a new and yet-unnamed MLB ballpark scheduled to open in the always-important Texas market in 2020, and Nationals Stadium in Washington, D.C., sans a corporate nameplate since it opened in 2008. We also note that in the same market, naming rights for the multibillion-dollar facility under construction in Inglewood, Calif., to house the NFL Rams and Chargers are for sale.

Having paid a record $2.15 billion for the Dodgers, Guggenheim Partners is under considerable revenue pressure. Still, the rhetorical question has to be whether MLB’s other supposedly sacrosanct facilities, like Wrigley, Fenway or Yankee Stadium, are next.

“I would counsel any potential sponsor to walk down that path carefully, because there are those certain hallowed facilities where fans will react negatively,” said Octagon CEO Rick Dudley.

Of course, there are economic realities precluding fan sensitivities.

“The people owning and running all of these legacy facilities feel like they are at a bit of competitive disadvantage in not being able to sell them as easily as a new building,” said Chris Allphin, senior vice president at Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment, where he oversees team and venue services, including naming rights. “I’d still say they are all in a ‘would if they could’ or ‘will if they can’ situation. Remember that the Yankees essentially did that same sort of deal (essentially a presenting sponsorship with Bank of America) for the new stadium, before it was short-circuited by the recession.”

ICON FOR AN ICON: Evander Holyfield, a recent inductee in the International Boxing Hall of Fame in June, has selected Chicago-based Icon LLC as his exclusive marketing and licensing agency. Agency President John Michael Lee will handle marketing for Holyfield, 54, the only four-time heavyweight champion.

COMINGS & GOINGS: Donna Goldsmith, Tough Mudder senior vice president, partnership marketing, international event licensing, corporate sales and merchandising, is departing the endurance racing circuit after more than two years. The former NBA and WWE marketer said the resignation was of her own volition, and that she’ll look for a new position after the summer. Meanwhile, Tough Mudder is expected to replace Goldsmith by hiring a new lead salesperson and by splitting her other responsibilities among several incumbent employees. … Jamie Reigle joins the Los Angeles Rams as executive vice president, business operations. He has spent the past 10 years with Manchester United in business and commercial development roles, most recently as a commercial director based in Hong Kong and managing ManU’s Asian operations. … Randy Burdette, Nike’s North America vice president/general manager, field and licensed sports, has departed after six years. Last month, Nike cut 2 percent of its workforce — or about 1,400 jobs around the world. … Former NFL consumer products czar Jim Connelly has exited IMG College after more than four and a half years, during which he helped run the Collegiate Licensing Co. business in Atlanta.

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


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