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Volume 26 No. 174
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Broncos' Naming Rights Search Ends With Empower Retirement

Temporary Empower Retirement signage will be up in time for the Broncos' home opener Sept. 15
Photo: BRONCOS
Temporary Empower Retirement signage will be up in time for the Broncos' home opener Sept. 15
Photo: BRONCOS
Temporary Empower Retirement signage will be up in time for the Broncos' home opener Sept. 15
Photo: BRONCOS

Empower Retirement has been a sponsor of the Broncos since '15, but its 21-year stadium naming-rights deal with the team came together just this summer, Broncos President & CEO Joe Ellis and Empower President & CEO Ed Murphy said. The Broncos had been in talks with multiple other companies in the three years and six months since Sports Authority filed for bankruptcy. Ellis suggested other companies' names and offering prices were a problem, and Empower will work well in a football context, he said. "We've had a lot of conversations with other companies that just didn't work out, in terms of being the right fit, having the right name to put on the building, and making the right commitment," Ellis said. Terms were not disclosed, but the AP reported the deal is similar to Sports Authority's defunct contract, worth $150M over 25 years, or $6M a year. If that is accurate, it would be less than half what Lincoln Financial recently paid to renew with the Eagles, and less than one-third what SoFi will reportedly pay at the new L.A. stadium. However, the deal -- which names the venue Empower Field at Mile High -- works in other ways for the Broncos. Experts say long-term deals with local companies are best. If approved as expected by the Metropolitan Football Stadium District, this deal ends the Broncos' ongoing financial obligations they incurred when Sports Authority went out of business. The stadium was known as Broncos Field at Mile High last year. Both sides said they were highly motivated to finish the deal in time to start the season, and temporary signage will be up in time for the home opener Sept. 15.

STICKING TO THEIR ROOTS: Empower Retirement's roots go back more than a century, but its brand was introduced in '14 as a result of a combination of J.P. Morgan and Putnam Investments' retirement accounts businesses. A year later, it did deals with the Broncos, Patriots and Chiefs, and later added PGA Tour pros to its sports marketing portfolio. "Our brand awareness is lower than we'd like, and we studied it and evaluated it, and worked with Joe and his team on this," said Murphy. "We're a growth company. We're investing in the brand, and we thought this was a terrific opportunity."

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING: The Athletic noted Murphy said there will be Empower signage in "both end zones, there's signage on the 50-yard line on both sides, there are aerial signs on all four corners of the stadium, there's significant statement signs in the south end zone, and there's lots of other areas within the stadium where we'll continue to have high exposure." The outlet also noted neither Ellis nor Murphy "provided specifics on how Empower's deal might be intertwined" with a development project around the venue. Endeavor advised the Broncos, and Catalyst Marketing Group "advised Empower" on the deal. Meanwhile, the Denver Post also noted the Broncos had "assumed the rest of Sports Authority's contract," which was worth about $20M over the final five years. Money from that deal "went to upkeep and maintenance at the stadium." That maintenance money now will come from Empower.