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Volume 25 No. 25
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Fiserv Closing In On Landing Naming Rights To Bucks' New Arena

Sources said the potential arena deal would be for 20 years and $6M annually
Photo: BUCKS

Wisconsin-based financial tech firm Fiserv is in advanced negotiations to become the naming-rights sponsor for the Bucks’ new $524M downtown arena, scheduled to open in September. Sources familiar with the pending deal said that while final documents have not been signed, a 20-year agreement with an average price of $6M per year is within weeks of being finalized. While sources did not reveal the precise name that will be used, they said that Fiserv Arena and Fiserv Center were both under consideration. Sources also said that the team, in its quest for more money, walked away from the same deal with similar terms within the past year. When no other buyers surfaced, the deal was resurrected. Bucks President Peter Feigin said there were still several suitors for the deal and that the team was "not in final negotiations with any perspective naming-rights partner." He said, "We certainly have been in negotiations with three of four different entities over the last year.” Bucks co-Owner Wes Edens last month said an entitlement deal with a local company was “imminent.” While the Bucks look to complete the deal with Fiserv several months ahead of its scheduled opening, a bonus is that the team would get an entitlement sponsor from a lucrative category that does not conflict with BMO Harris Bank, a top-level sponsor at the new arena. BMO Harris since '12 had entitlement to Bradley Center, the Bucks’ previous home. The new 17,500-seat arena, which will host both the Bucks and Marquette Univ., is set to open Sept. 13 with a performance by comedian Kevin Hart.

MARKETING PLATFORM FOR COMPANY: The deal would not represent a significant marketing spend for a company as large as Fiserv, which reported $5.5B in revenues in ’16. However, it will deliver a substantial marketing platform for the Fortune 500 company, which has scant brand awareness outside its home market of Milwaukee. It does not appear Fiserv has done any prior sports marketing. Fiserv, one of the top tech providers to the domestic banking industry, would be one of two pure B2B brands with an NBA arena entitlement, joining Oracle. Marketing consultancy IdeaQuest Founder & President Eric Bechtel, noting he had no knowledge of the Bucks deal, said there are “only two reasons B-2-B firms do naming rights deals: branding for distinction within their customer set, and to get business back, which is where its hoped every B-2-B deal leads.’’ IdeaQuest last year helped negotiate the first top-level “founding partner” sponsorship at the arena for Johnson Controls, another B2B brand.

NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Hometown corporate citizenship figures heavily in the deal. Fiserv’s Brookfield, Wisc., HQ is 13 miles from the arena. Gemini Sports Group President Rob Yowell, a long-time naming-rights consultant, said, “Branding and marketing elements are certainly important factors in the decision, but the ‘hometown’ naming-rights partner will always have a genuine feel that is hard to replicate with a non-local brand. As part of the community, and as a major employer and economic provider, a long-term financial commitment by a naming-rights partner is a sign of corporate leadership that sends a strong message to the region that their brand is strong."