The $1.6B and now one-year-old New Meadowlands Stadium “will be known as MetLife Stadium for at least the next 25 years, with four permanent signs set to be unveiled outside the building by the stadium's Sept. 11 regular-season opener between the Jets and the Cowboys,” according to Aditi Kinkhabwala of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Stadium President & CEO Mark Lamping “refused to divulge any financial details.” Giants President & CEO John Mara said that it is “his understanding this is the largest naming rights deal in the NFL, and will ultimately help to pay down the debt from the privately financed stadium.” Mara admitted that he was “surprised that the deal ‘took this long,’ and said the final numbers were less than he, fellow owner Steve Tisch and Jets owner Woody Johnson projected three years ago.” But he said, "We're very fortunate given what's going on in the economy and given the lack of naming rights deals done elsewhere in the country" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/24). MetLife CEO Steven Kandarian said that the lure of the facility hosting the Super Bowl in ’14 “was an added benefit.” He said that without the championship game MetLife “still would have done the deal ‘but perhaps for a different price.’” A source said that the rights package “would be around $400 million, less than the record $23.3 million a year Farmers Insurance Group said it would pay” AEG to name a proposed NFL stadium in downtown L.A. It also would be less than Citigroup’s deal to name Citi Field and Barclays’s agreement for Barclays Center (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 8/23). In N.Y., DeCambre & Hubbach note not only is the “size of the naming-rights deal less than what had been expected, but MetLife, under the deal, will get to keep its $7 million-a-year cornerstone partnership deal -- which grants it lots of additional stadium signage -- until the teams snag a new placement deal” (N.Y. POST, 8/24).
MET BENEFIT: MetLife CMO Beth Hirschhorn said that there were three reasons for the company’s naming-rights deal: the “media exposure that a stadium in the New York market with two NFL teams and a Super Bowl in 2014 can bring; for the connection that it will have with fans; and for the dynamism that football brings to the stodgy world of life insurance.” In N.Y., Richard Sandomir notes among the other companies "solicited beside MetLife were the stadium’s other cornerstone partners: Bud Light, Verizon and Pepsi." The deal was “signed in time for announcers to start calling it MetLife Stadium for Saturday night’s Jets-Giants game, but it will be a few weeks until the four giant illuminated signs outside the stadium will be erected,” and at MetLife’s section of the stadium, a “statue of Lucy Van Pelt trying to throw a pass” (N.Y. TIMES, 8/24). Mara said that the Jets and Giants were “comfortable with MetLife as a title partner, based on their existing relationship, as well as knowing ‘that 10 years from now the company won't be out of business’" (Bergen RECORD, 8/24).
Manchester United Owners the Glazer family is “considering selling sponsorship rights to the club’s Carrington training ground,” according to Paul Kelso of the London TELEGRAPH. Carrington, “a 108-acre complex comprising 14 pitches and state-of-the-art facilities is synonymous with the club and the development of young players and naming rights is an option.” ManU owns the "freehold to the complex," and unlike Old Trafford stadium, Carrington "was not put up as security in the 2009 bond issue that raised more than [US$824.7M] to ease the Glazers' interest burden on their acquisition debts.” The “bond prospectus did allow for Carrington to be sold and leased back to raise finance,” but given the US$16.5M per year training kit deal with DHL announced earlier this week, a naming-rights agreement “could be lucrative” (London TELEGRAPH, 8/24).
EASTERN INFLUENCE: The FINANCIAL TIMES’ Kevin Brown cited sources as saying that the Glazers’ decision to list in Asia "will raise the club’s profile," allowing it to "tap fresh commercial opportunities from Indonesia to China." But it “may not be that simple.” The club’s “opaque finances are seen by sceptics as a key reason why Manchester United decided to locate its IPO in Asia rather than in London, where there is scepticism about the business models of football clubs whose revenues largely disappear in ever-inflating player salaries and transfer fees.” The "air of mystery has been compounded by the club’s surprise choice of Singapore for its IPO, rather than Hong Kong, as had been widely expected -- a decision described as ‘hard to explain’ by one banker involved in early discussions on the listing." Sources said that the “driving force was a desire to avoid over-identification with China, and to tap the very large fan base among the 600M people of relatively well-developed South-East Asia.” Bankers said that it is "difficult to envisage a serious financial issue that would not be caught by Singapore’s listing requirements, but it is possible that the Glazers might find the exchange’s continuous disclosure regime more amenable than Hong Kong’s more rigid rules-based approach" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 8/23).
The Predators have delivered to the Nashville Sports Authority a plan to “give a whopping new" concessions contract to Delaware North, according to Phil Williams of WTVF-CBS. The Predators insist that the deal at the city-owned Bridgestone Arena "would be good for Metro taxpayers.” The proposed contract “takes what was essentially a no-bid contract and potentially extends it to the middle of this century.” The original contract with Delaware North “was supposed to run for 10 years with options to potentially extend it -- for the right price -- to 2026.” But a “later amendment pushed that date to 2033.” Now, the proposed new contract "could give the business" to the company through '43. Predators President & COO Sean Henry “first presented the proposal last month to the Nashville Sports Authority, portraying it as a way to sweeten the current concessions deal, getting high-tech cash registers and other improvements at no cost to the city.” Delaware North is owned by Bruins Owner Jeremy Jacobs, and a Sports Authority member “questioned whether the Predators can or should continue giving such deals to an NHL insider -- without seeing if taxpayers could do better.” The concession contract “has a window coming up in two years, where the city and the Predators could renegotiate the whole deal." But Henry said that “he had already checked with potential competitors -- and it wouldn’t really be worth the effort.” However, Centerplate and Aramark, “Delaware North’s biggest competitors,” released statements suggesting that they were “never called” (NEWSCHANNEL5.com, 8/22).
In San Antonio, Guillermo Garcia reports Bexar County "has asked the Spurs to re-evaluate when the organization expects to begin spending $75 million in bond money earmarked for capital improvements at the county-owned AT&T Center." If the team "were to delay starting to spend the bond funds that voters approved in 2007, it essentially would be putting off having to spend $15 million -- its portion of the nearly $90 million total dedicated for arena technology improvements and enhanced fan experience." Bexar County officials said that the Spurs could use that $15M "as a cushion against the financial shock certain to hit if part or all of next season were scuttled" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 8/24).
CALIFORNIA LOVE: In New Orleans, Jeff Duncan reports Saints coach Sean Payton wants to "hold training camp in Oxnard," Calif., again in "some form or fashion very soon, perhaps as early as next season." But the Cowboys "might have something to say about that." The Saints held part of their training camp this summer in Oxnard, while the Cowboys "have a long history of conducting training camp" there. The Cowboys trained in "nearby Thousand Oaks for decades and have held camp in Oxnard off and on for the better part of the past decade" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 8/24).
KEEP YOUR MOTOR RUNNIN': Circuit of the Americas spokesperson Jeff Hahn contends that construction on the Austin track is "still moving ahead as planned." In Austin, Eric Dexheimer cited sources as saying that "work had ceased at Circuit of the Americas" ahead of next November's inaugural F1 U.S. Grand Prix in the Texas city. But Hahn said that the "construction work is phased." He added that because of dry weather, "early work has moved ahead quicker than planned" (STATESMAN.com, 8/22).
DOUBLING DOWN: Texas Motor Speedway yesterday announced that the Izod IndyCar Series twin race format will return in '12, and the track's "two NASCAR stops will be highlighted by a Saturday night spring race and the eighth Chase race." The TMS schedule for next year starts with the Samsung Mobile 500 on April 14, the "first Saturday night race of the Sprint Cup season," before NASCAR returns Nov. 4 for the "eighth stop in the Chase for the Sprint Cup." Between those two Cup weekends will be the Firestone Twin 275s on June 9 (ESPNDALLAS.com, 8/23).