The Seahawks, parent firm First & Goal and CenturyLink have agreed to extend the telecom firm’s naming rights at the Seattle stadium. The renewal for CenturyLink Field starts at the beginning of '19 and runs through the '33 season, team officials said. Financial terms were not disclosed. The deal is pending approval by the Public Stadium Authority, the stadium’s owner. Under the current agreement, which expires at the end of the '18 season, CenturyLink pays $5M annually for naming rights. The original deal dates to '04, when the stadium was called Qwest Field. It was renamed CenturyLink Field in '11 after CenturyLink acquired Qwest Communications. The process was easy for renewing the deal and took about four months to complete after initial discussions started in December, according to CenturyLink Dir of Corporate Sponsorships Rich Karlis. Seahawks COO Chuck Arnold and VP/Corporate Partnerships & Suites Amy Sprangers represented the team in negotiations. Despite published reports stating that Louisiana-based CenturyLink was not going to extend the agreement, Karlis said there were never any discussions among company leaders about ending the partnership. “Once we sat down and heard the initial presentation from the team, (both parties) knew we were in the ranges we would like to be,” Karlis said. “They did their homework. Everybody agreed we were close (on terms) and we got to a deal quickly. Both sides feel strong about where we landed.” Sales agency Tigris, founded by Matt Yonan who worked for the old Bonham Group in Denver, supported CenturyLink with data research on NFL naming rights deals in other markets, Karlis said.
ALREADY AN ICONIC STADIUM: As part of the negotiations, CenturyLink officials recognized the strong branding presence at one of the most intimidating stadiums in the NFL and MLS, which typically sells out for both Seahawks and Sounders games. In that respect, it has become an iconic facility in the 15 years since it opened, Karlis said. “Everybody I talk to says they have to attend a game at CenturyLink Field,” he said. “The addition of the Sounders (in '09) makes the deal even stronger. They average about 43,000 attendance.” The renewal extends to CenturyLink Field Event Center, a multi-purpose space attached to the stadium, and combined with the stadium itself, the two venues draw more than 2.4 million attendees annually. Apart from those two buildings, the deal calls for CenturyLink to continue receiving brand exposure and hospitality at the Museum of Pop Culture, the Seattle attraction founded and built by Seahawks Owner Paul Allen. CenturyLink also will continue sponsoring Seahawks community outreach programs, including high school athlete of the week and Spirit of 12 Partners, which has raised about $4M for local charities over the past 13 years.
An announcement confirming the A's new ballpark site "could happen as early as this summer, fueling speculation about a brand-new location, or perhaps" the team building next to its current home at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, according to sources cited by David DeBolt of the EAST BAY TIMES. The club's options include Howard Terminal on the waterfront next to Jack London Square, Laney College near Lake Merritt and a "cozy new ballpark next to their crumbling, current home." The A’s have "done polling on each site, but the allure of a downtown or waterfront park has sucked up the most air in this discussion." A's President Dave Kaval said that all three locations "are in play, and environmental, neighborhood, traffic and other impacts are being evaluated daily." Kaval: "Each site has its unique pros and cons in different areas. We are laying them all out and getting feedback from people in those communities" (EASTBAYTIMES.com, 5/14).
BRING THE PEOPLE IN: In S.F., Branch & Slusser noted the A's new digital $19.99 month-long ballpark pass is the latest move by Kaval to "boost attendance." The team's average attendance of 16,159 is the "second lowest in the major leagues, and most of the seats in the recently untarped third deck at the Coliseum have remained empty." The passes "provide a great value," but also serve as a "indirect statement" about the A’s out-of-date venue and its tenants. A's VP/Communications & Community Relations Catherine Aker said, "I definitely don’t think it devalues our product at all. ... The more people we can get into the ballpark, the better fan experience for everyone involved." The A's are "eager for any new fans, but with its pass, the team is targeting the Millennial mind-set." However, it is "possible that some season-ticket holders who are paying far more for seats could have concerns about how the passes could impact their investment" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 5/14).
Dodgers investor Magic Johnson has "presented an offer" for Dodger Stadium to host the Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin bout slated for Sept. 16, according to Lance Pugmire of the L.A. TIMES. Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya said, "I can't reveal details, but Magic Johnson made a very nice offer. It's a nice package I have to consider." Rival pitches are expected this week from Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones for AT&T Stadium and from MGM Resorts for T-Mobile Arena. De La Hoya said that Wembley Stadium and MSG "are also interested." Dodger Stadium has "only hosted one major boxing match," in '63. Dodger Stadium officials said that with additional floor seats it "can accommodate a crowd of 60,000" (L.A. TIMES, 5/14). Cowboys Exec VP, COO & Dir of Player Personnel Stephen Jones said that the team "would like to host" the boxing match. Jones said that the Cowboys "have not taken" the step to submit a bid, but their interest is "clear and known." Jones: "Would sure like to be considered. No we haven’t made a bid but we’re hopeful of getting in the mix on that. They know we want to do it. They’ll have to contact us. We’ve told them we’re interested when that fight comes around" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 5/14).
In Providence, Kate Bramson noted Rhode Island, Pawtucket and Triple-A Int'l League Pawtucket Red Sox negotiators "will not say how much each might commit" to building a new downtown ballpark. However, Gov. Gina Raimondo "has a ceiling" on the state’s contribution: $35M. This is the first time Raimondo has "publicly stated any dollar amount under consideration." Consultants have estimated it would take $35.6M to "cure structural deficiencies" at the 75-year-old McCoy Stadium -- or $68M to "fully renovate the ballpark to the level of other Triple-A stadiums around the country" (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 5/13).
CROSSTOWN TRAFFIC: In Atlanta, Dan Klepal reported Cobb County taxpayers are "paying county police officers overtime to direct traffic outside of the SunTrust Park development during games and special events, at an estimated cost of $900,000 per year." Traffic control is an "expense the Braves paid during their last eight seasons at Turner Field, and one the Falcons will pay when Mercedes-Benz Stadium opens this fall." Traffic management at Mercedes-Benz Stadium is estimated to cost $2.5M a year for "football games, soccer matches and special events" (AJC.com, 5/12).
ON KNIGHT WATCH: In Las Vegas, Steve Carp noted workers at T-Moble Arena are "still building" the Golden Knights' locker room, press box and team store. Golden Knights VP/Communications & Content Eric Tosi estimated that all of the projects are about 65% complete and that "everything will be finished on time." The team is "keeping the look" of the locker room a secret. Golden Knights Senior VP Murray Craven said, "It's not gigantic, but it checks all the boxes" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 5/14).