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Volume 21 No. 30
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Curiosity leads to naming rights

Hospital network CHI Health agreed to a naming-rights deal for the arena in Omaha, Neb.
Photo: Getty Images

Professional Sports Partners, the Houston-based agency that sold naming rights to the arena in Omaha, Neb., started the sales process in January by talking to 100 companies over a three-week period.

 

CHI Health, a network of hospitals with a strong presence in Nebraska, took an initial meeting out of curiosity, but it wasn’t until the last six weeks, as PSP culled its list of serious candidates to 10 and then a final four, that CHI moved to the front of the line. The deal announced last week will cost CHI $23.5 million over 20 years. That marks a slight increase over the previous naming-rights deal, which was worth $14.05 million over 15 years with CenturyLink, which also bid on the arena.

 

PSP has worked on a number of sponsorship deals in the past, but this marked the first time it sold a deal on the property side.

 

“It’s a space where we see a lot of growth potential,” said Jason Kohll, PSP’s chief executive.

 

Through the six-month sales process, Kohll was struck by the activity and interest from the hospital category, something he didn’t anticipate in the pursuit of a naming-rights partner. Hospitals have been avid sponsors, especially in the college space, but Kohll found just one example of a stadium or arena naming-rights deal — Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City.

 

“The hospital category is a hot space,” Kohll said. “And I think it’s going to get even hotter for naming rights because of the way hospitals can leverage these deals.”

 

CHI, which negotiated the deal internally and did not work with an agency, already has a list of health-based activation ideas, such as on-site health screenings, walking challenges and calorie and step counters to track a fan from the parking lot throughout the arena.

 

PSP sold the deal on behalf of the Metropolitan Entertainment Convention Authority, the nonprofit entity that oversees and books the arena in Omaha. MECA’s agreement with PSP called for the agency to make $10,000 a month for six months, plus a 3 percent bonus of the gross value and an additional 3 percent of revenue over $10 million.

 

Creighton University basketball is the primary tenant for the building. The Blue Jays averaged 17,000 for 2017-18 and typically rank among the top 10 schools in attendance nationally.