[London] Taking a page from the U.S. sports playbook, a high profile U.K. soccer team has hired a Los Angeles firm to find a marketing partner for its new London stadium set to open in 2006. Naming rights are common in the U.S. but still rare in Europe. Arsenal Holdings' Arsenal Football Club has signed on with Envision, a division of Wasserman Media Group that bartered deals for the Staples Center and the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles. Jeff Knapple, president-CEO of Envision, said "It's a very passionate fan base, and we'll connect a marketer with that."
Along with signage, the marketer would have a full package of tie-ins with the venue and team, including promotions, access to players and TV time, similar to U.S. deals. It will span 15 to 20 years and could potentially break the U.S. record of $10 million a year because of soccer's international appeal and extended playing season, Mr. Knapple said. The new, privately funded stadium will seat 60,000 people, with annual traffic expected to be near 2 million fans.