Sprawling Deal Expected to Bring in as Much as $1 Billion

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LOS ANGELES -- In the midst of a project designed to transform London’s Wembley area into a major international leisure destination, developer Quintain has selected Los Angeles-based Wasserman Media Group to handle the site’s naming rights, which could generate up to $1 billion for the property.
Developers are promoting the area-wide project as one that will rival New York's Times Square.

Redevelopment plans for the area surrounding London’s Wembley sports stadium and music arena are designed to create a location whose size and attractions rival those of New York’s Time Square, according to developers.

Stadium and arena

Wembley is a area of London best known for two public venues: the Wembley National Stadium, which has been a world-famous soccer venue since 1924, and the Wembley Arena, a similarly famous entertainment center since it opened in the 1930s.

The wildly popular but woefully outdated stadium was closed for demolition in 2000 and is now being replaced by an ultra-modern 90,000-seat facility that is the jewel of the larger Wembley redevelopment project. Meanwhile, the arena has been closed for a top-to-bottom refurbishing.

In addition to the $64 million overhaul of Wembley Arena, Quintain plans to build a 150,000-square-foot shopping center; a 140,000-square-foot sports retail complex; 4,224 apartments; and Britain’s largest movie multiplex. An array of restaurants, cafes and bars, a bowling alley, nightclubs and three public squares and plazas featuring performance and entertainment spaces are also planned. Additionally, Caesars Entertainment is in talks to build a $600 million casino and hotel resort in the space.

The entire complex will eventually cover 8 million square feet across 70 acres of land.

Three railway stations

An estimated 12 million people are expected to visit the site each year -- a number that could rise to 20 million should the casino be built. The property is served by three railway stations that will connect to the site’s mile-long street of retail facilities.

As part of its deal with Quintain, WMG Marketing, a division of Wasserman Media Group, will serve as the new Wembley property’s exclusive commercial marketing agency. The company beat out Clear Channel and IMG for the job, executives close to the talks said.

While its deal includes finding a sponsor for Wembley Arena, a host of major concerts and events, the pact with WMG Marketing does not include renaming Wembley National Stadium.

Quintain and WMG Marketing are looking to attract globally recognized brands to the property and want to sign up to 11 exclusive partners overall. They hope to sign up the first companies within the next 12 to 18 months.

Staggered sponsorships

Sponsorship terms will be staggered, with sponsors of larger venues like the Wembley Arena, for example, signing on for a minimum of 15 years, while other partners sponsor the complex from five-year increments and up. Rights deals are expected to generate $40 million a year and earn $800 million to $1 billion during its lifetime, those close to the project said.

Developers are concerned with making the complex seem too commercial when it comes to the branding.
Developers are promoting the area-wide project as one that will rival New York's Times Square.

“It must be embedded and subtle,” said Nick Shattock, property director of Quintain Estates and Development. “It can’t be brash or overt. We want it to add to the overall excitement and enhance the consumer experience. We want a balance between the vibrancy of Times Square but are looking for the embedded branding of a Fifth Avenue.”

Recruiting for corporate partners

Because of that, Quintain and WMG Marketing are seeking corporate partners that will be integrated into the early design and construction phases of the project. Those might include finding brands to provide the site’s overall technology infrastructure, or companies providing the complex’s apartments with electronics hardware, for example. Other sought-after product categories include beverage, auto, security, financial and telecommunications brands. Sponsors could be repped through everything from signage to their own retail destinations similar to Las Vegas’ Coca-Cola and M&M stores.

“We’re starting from ground zero,” said Jeff Knapple, president of WMG Marketing. “There are so many ways to integrate different kinds of product categories because this is where people will live, work and dine. Our goal is to avoid slapping anyone on the site. We’re looking for companies that want to be involved in the building of the project. Our plan is to deploy a less is more strategy.”

WMG Marketing most recently negotiated a $180 million deal for Emirates Airlines to sponsor the Arsenal soccer team. It also brokered a $187 million deal for Atlanta’s Philips Arena, and handled the naming rights for Houston’s Toyota Center and Los Angeles’ Staples Center and Kodak Theater. It’s also currently representing the Juventus Football Club in the naming of its new stadium in Italy.

Given those deals, however, WMG Marketing eyes Wembley as a different kind of opportunity.

Never-been-done perspective

“We’re looking at it from a never-been-done perspective,” Mr. Knapple said. He explained that whereas naming rights typically involve a specific team or building, the Wembley project will involve naming an entire area.

“From a marketing point of view, being able to capitalize on that opportunity is landmark,” Mr. Knapple said. “That’s what sets this apart.”

Quintain, which is also redeveloping the area surrounding London’s Millennium Dome, acquired the site around Wembley Stadium in 2002. It’s already broken ground on the new complex and hopes to have the redesigned Wembley Arena completed by early next year in time for the FA Cup. Plans call for the entire complex to be completed within the next seven years.
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