Can Super Bowl Help Land a Sponsor for New York Stadium?

Two Big Teams in a Major Market, Yet No Corporate Takers So Far for New Meadowlands

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NEW YORK ( -- The New Meadowlands Stadium, future home to the New York Giants and New York Jets, has a lot of things going for it -- except a multimillion-dollar naming-rights deal. Now that New York has beaten the odds and nabbed hosting duties for the 2014 Super Bowl, that is likely to change.

New Meadowlands Stadium
New Meadowlands Stadium
The 82,500-seat facility officially opened Wednesday with a Bon Jovi concert and will host its first football game in August.

When construction on the new stadium began three years ago, it was assumed a naming rights sponsor would be a fait accompli. And given that the facility had two tenants in the biggest market in the country, a deal would likely surpass that of the $400 million, 20-year agreements that both Citibank is paying the New York Mets for Citi Field and London-based Barclays Bank will pay the NBA's Nets to name their new arena in Brooklyn.

But the economy tanked, and both the Giants/Jets and the Dallas Cowboys, who opened a new stadium last year, have had difficulty finding naming rights sponsors.

"That will change," said Chris Foy, president of Denver, Colo.-based General Sports Alliance, which helps broker naming rights deals, among other things. "The naming rights industry took a little bit of a hit with the economy the last couple of years, but it's poised for a substantial rebound. The New Meadowlands Stadium is the most attractive platform out there. It has two teams playing the most-watched sport in the No. 1 market in the country. My guess is a deal is going to be done here fairly soon, and a few companies will enter into the bidding in the next six, eight months."

Quiet optimism
For their part, the Giants and the Jets have been quietly optimistic. The teams were in naming rights negotiations with Germany-based insurance company Allianz in 2008 for a reported $30 million annually, but those talks ended quickly when it was reported the company had ties to the Nazis through the end of World War II.

At Wednesday's press conference following the announcement that New York/New Jersey had been awarded the 2014 Super Bowl, Giants co-owner John Mara was asked if getting the Super Bowl would hasten a naming rights deal.

"It can't hurt," Mr. Mara said. "This is a positive factor. It makes it an even more attractive package, the potential naming rights part, but that will come."

Marketing veteran Zach Anderson, who runs the popular sports branding blog, said the naming rights era has changed. Both sides are more wary now in light of the backlash that happened with Citibank, which was lambasted for going forward with the $400 million deal for Citi Field when it took $45 billion in bailout funds.

"You can have the greatest product in the world, but this isn't the greatest time to be shopping for a deal," Mr. Anderson said. "The Citibank backlash, that took a whole segment [banking and finance] and just knocked it right out of the potential candidates for naming rights."

That said, Mr. Anderson said he believes both the Giants/Jets and the Cowboys will soon have naming rights deals.

"You look at what [Cowboys owner] Jerry Jones has done with that new stadium," Mr. Anderson said. "It's not just football. He helped get the NBA All-Star Game there and a Manny Pacquiao fight there. There's been great exposure for the stadium, and with Dallas hosting the Super Bowl [in 2011], I suspect they'll have a deal in place."

'When, not if'
The question is, will these deals be as lucrative and as long-term as once thought? Many companies are doing shorter sponsorship deals, though they clearly see the short-term value of the Super Bowl. Sun Life Financial, for instance, swooped in with a reported five-year, $30 million deal to name Dolphins Stadium in Miami this past January, less than a month before the site hosted the Super Bowl.

It has long been rumored, talked about and blogged about that New York-based JetBlue Airways would be the perfect fit as the naming rights sponsor for the new Meadowlands Stadium -- Jet for the Jets and Blue for Big Blue, a nickname for the Giants.

JetBlue did not return a call by press time.

"I think, if the right company comes in, there could be a chance of hitting that [$20 million annual] number for the Jets/Giants stadium," Mr. Foy said. "From a value standpoint, that price tag being rumored is one that can certainly be justified by the economic exposure those two teams generate in the top market in the country."

And having the Super Bowl certainly adds to the attractiveness.

"Every year, the Super Bowl just gets bigger and bigger and has a larger TV audience," said Darin David, group director for the Dallas-based sports marketing firm The Marketing Arm. "But this one in New York is interesting and intriguing and has more layers, more storylines -- being in the Big Apple for the first time, the 'X Factor' of whether the weather will play a part ... all that is attractive, and I just can't imagine this stadium not having a very lucrative deal. It's a matter of when, not if. Somebody might come in in the next few months and lock something up, or they might wait until a year out from the Super Bowl. Either way, it's going to get done."

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