What was once a unique way of advertising — plastering a corporate name on professional sports stadiums for a price — is now fairly commonplace, with naming contracts running into the tens of millions of dollars.
According to the Houston Chronicle, just one in four sports franchises still play on a field or in an arena that isn’t emblazoned with a corporate name — among them are Lambeau Field, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park and Wrigley Field.
It would be hard to determine the payoff on these naming deals, but the exposure they provide major companies is undeniable, given how many people attend the games and millions more who watch them on television. Companies are placing big bets on them. Here are 20 of the richest naming-rights deals on record in the country.
20. Toyota Center — Houston, Texas
Toyota agreed to pay $100 million — or $5 million a year for 20 years — to secure naming rights to the NBA’s Houston Rockets’ home arena, which is located in downtown Houston. Toyota Center, which covers six city blocks, also hosts concerts and other events.
19. American Airlines Center — Dallas, Texas
The airline pays about $6.5 million a year, and will continue to do so through 2031, in exchange for naming rights for the Dallas Mavericks’ (NBA) and Dallas Stars’ (NFL) home arena. American Airlines is headquartered in nearby Fort Worth and based at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
18. Lincoln Financial Field — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
In 2002, Lincoln Financial inked a 21-year, $139.6 million deal for naming rights to the stadium of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, which fans call “The Linc.” The Temple Owls football team of Temple University also plays at The Linc.
17. Bank of America Stadium — Charlotte, North Carolina
In 2004, the Bank of America purchased the naming rights to the home field of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers home field for 20 years, agreeing to pony up $7 million a year to have its name emblazoned on the stadium.
16. Minute Maid Park — Houston, Texas
According to the Houston Chronicle, Minute Maid pays about $7.4 million a year to have Houston Astros’ fans watch their favorite Major League Baseball team play at Minute Maid Park.
15. University of Phoenix Stadium — Glendale, Arizona
The University of Phoenix acquired naming rights to the stadium of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals in 2006 for $7.7 million a year. The for-profit college agreed to a 20-year, $154.5 million deal for the stadium, which hosted Super Bowl XLII in 2008 and Super Bowl XLIX in 2015. It will host the NCAA Final Four in 2017.
14. FedEx Field — Landover, Maryland
In a 27-year naming rights deal that goes through 2026, FedEx ponies up $7.59 million annually to have its name on the home of the NFL’s Washington Redskins, FedEx Field.
13. Gillette Stadium — Foxborough, Massachusetts
The stadium of the NFL’s New England Patriots gets about $8 million each year from Gillette for naming rights. Gillette scored the contract — which is good through 2031 — after the stadium’s previous naming-rights owner, CMGI, fell victim to the dot-com bust.
12. Philips Arena — Atlanta, Georgia
Royal Philips Electronics inked a 20-year $185 million naming-rights deal — that’s $9.25 million a year — for the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks’ home court in 1999. The arena was also home to the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers before they moved to Canada in 2011.
11. Mercedes-Benz Superdome — New Orleans, Louisiana
The luxury car maker owns naming rights for the New Orleans Superdome — home of the NFL’s Saints — at an annual price tag of about $10 million, through 2021. (Mercedes-Benz also has a naming-rights deal for the new stadium for the Atlanta Falcons — a rival team of the Saints in same NFL division. That facility is slated to open in 2017.)
10. SunTrust Park — Atlanta, Georgia
SunTrust Bank agreed to a 25-year $250 million deal for naming rights to the Atlanta Braves’ new Cobb County baseball field. The field is under construction now, but the Braves are expected to play their first game at SunTrust Park in 2017.
9. Barclays Center — New York, New York
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Barclays Bank has a 20-year naming-rights deal for the Barclays Center, home of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and the NHL’s New York Islanders. In 2007, the New York Post says, the bank agreed to a 20-year $400 million naming-rights deal, which is similar to what MetLife and Citigroup pay for naming rights for their New York stadiums. But in 2009, with the U.S. economy in crisis, the deal was renegotiated and its price tag was dropped by half to $200 million for 20 years.
8. NRG Stadium — Houston, Texas
In 2000, NRG Energy signed a 30-year $300 million deal for naming rights to the stadium of the NFL’s Houston Texans, a facility formerly called Reliant Stadium.
7. Levi’s Stadium — Santa Clara, California
The apparel company Levi’s inked a deal for naming rights to the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers home stadium in 2013, agreeing to hand over $11 million annually in a 20-year, $220 million deal that emblazoned Levi’s name and logo on the stadium.
6. U.S. Bank Stadium — Minneapolis, Minnesota
The Minnesota Vikings played their first regular season game in their new $1.13 billion U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Sept. 18. The Vikings gave their fans something to cheer for — in addition to an impressive new state-of-the-art football facility — with a 17-14 win against the Green Bay Packers.
The Minneapolis-headquartered U.S. Bank is reportedly paying a whopping $220 million over 20 years — that’s $11 million each year — for naming rights to the 1.75 million-square-foot stadium, which is slated to host the Super Bowl in 2018.
5. Mercedes-Benz Stadium — Atlanta, Georgia
The stadium is currently under construction, but the Atlanta Falcons hope to kick off the 2017 football season at the new $1.4 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium next year. In 2015, the luxury-car company agreed to shell out $310 million over 27 years, or about $11.5 million a year, for stadium naming rights to the new Atlanta facility. (The German automotive company also has its name on the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, home to the NFL’s New Orleans Saints.)
4. Hard Rock Stadium — Miami, Florida
The NFL’s Miami Dolphins kicked off the 2016 season at the newly named Hard Rock Stadium, formerly known as Sun Life Stadium. The restaurant company Hard Rock International agreed to pay $250 million over 18 years — that’s roughly $13.9 million a year — for the stadium to bear its name.
3. MetLife Stadium — East Rutherford, New Jersey
MetLife Stadium, home to the NFL’s New York Jets and New York Giants, costs the insurance company a reported $18 million a year for naming rights. MetLife signed a 25-year $400 million deal for naming rights to the stadium in 2011.
2. AT&T Stadium — Dallas, Texas
AT&T inked a deal with the Dallas Cowboys in July, agreeing to pony up about $19 million a year to have the NFL team take the field at AT&T Stadium. “If having your brand name associated with a winner is one of the advantages of buying the naming rights to a stadium, it is the worst deal in U.S. sports,” says the Houston Chronicle, noting that had AT&T owned naming rights to the Cowboys’ stadium last season, it would have cost them $2.375 million per win, “the worst win/dollar ratio in all sports.”
1. Citi Field — New York, New York
New York City’s Citi Field is the result of the biggest naming-rights deal in professional sports in the United States. The investment banking firm Citigroup ponies up about $20 million a year for the New York Mets to play baseball at Citi Field.
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