Naming rights are a financial transaction and form of advertising whereby a corporation or other entity purchases the right to name a facility or event, typically for a defined period of time. For properties like a multi-purpose arena, performing arts venue or an athletic field, the term ranges from three to 20 years. Longer terms are more common for higher profile venues such as a professional sports facility.
The distinctive characteristic for this type of naming rights is that the buyer gets a marketing property to promote products and services, promote customer retention and/or increase market share.
There are several forms of corporate sponsored names. A presenting sponsor attaches the name of the corporation or brand at the end (or, sometimes, beginning) of a generic, usually traditional, name (e.g. Mall of America Field at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome). A title sponsor replaces the original name of the property with a corporate-sponsored one, with no reference to the previous name.
In a few cases, naming rights contracts have been terminated prematurely. Such terminations may be the result of contractual options, sponsor bankruptcy, or scandals.
Stadium naming may have shifted in recent years to promoting corporate trade names, but in earlier decades is largely traced to the family names of company founders.
The record for the highest amount paid for naming rights belongs to Scotiabank Arena. On August 29, 2017, a 20-year/$800 Million (CAD) sponsorship deal was reached between Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment and Canada's Bank of Nova Scotia to rename Toronto's Air Canada Centre. The home of the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs and NBA's Toronto Raptors became known as Scotiabank Arena on July 1, 2018.
Prior to the Scotiabank Arena deal, the record belonged to Citi Field (opened in 2009) and Barclays Center (opened in 2012), both located in New York City, US. Each garnered deals of $20 million (USD) per year for at least 20 years.
The New Meadowlands Stadium, shared home of the New York Giants and New York Jets in East Rutherford, New Jersey, US., was expected to eclipse both deals, with experts estimating it would value $25–30 million annually. It ultimately fell short of that benchmark, with MetLife Stadium earning $17 million annually from its naming rights deal with MetLife.
Occasionally, the purchaser of a stadium's naming rights may choose to donate those rights to an outside organization, typically one to which it is closely related. Probably the most notable example of this is Friends Arena, a major stadium in Stockholm. The facility was originally known as Swedbank Arena, but in 2012 that company donated those rights to the Friends Foundation, an organization seeking to combat school bullying that is heavily sponsored by Swedbank. More recently, the Kentucky Farm Bureau, an organization promoting the interests of Kentucky farmers that is best known to the non-farming public for its insurance business, acquired the naming rights to the University of Kentucky's new baseball park in 2018. The Farm Bureau in turn donated those naming rights to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, naming the venue Kentucky Proud Park. The sponsored name is the brand used by said state agency in its marketing campaign for agricultural products produced in that state.
Naming rights in United States may have been traced back to 1912 with the opening of Fenway Park in Boston. The stadium's owner had owned a realty company called "Fenway Realty" (itself named for a nearby parkland), so the promotional value of the naming has been considered. Despite this, it is more widely believed to have begun in 1926 when William Wrigley, the chewing gum magnate and owner of the Chicago Cubs, named his team's stadium "Wrigley Field." In 1953, Anheuser-Busch head and St. Louis Cardinals owner August Busch, Jr. proposed renaming Sportsman's Park, occupied by the Cardinals, "Budweiser Stadium". When this idea was rejected by Ford Frick, the Commissioner of Baseball at that time, Anheuser-Busch then proposed the title "Busch Stadium" after one of the company's founders. The name was readily approved, and Anheuser-Busch subsequently released a new product called "Busch Bavarian Beer" (now known as Busch Beer). The name would later be shifted to the Busch Memorial Stadium in 1966, shortened in the 1970s to "Busch Stadium" and remained the stadium's name until it closed in 2005. By that time, Major League Baseball's policy had changed – with Coors Field in Denver and Miller Park in Milwaukee going up in that span – and Anheuser-Busch (who retained the naming rights after selling the team) was able to use the same name for the Cardinals' new stadium which opened on April 4, 2006. Foxboro Stadium, the home of the New England Patriots between 1970 and 2001, was an early example of a team selling naming rights to a company that did not own it, naming the stadium Schaefer Stadium after the beer company from its building until 1983.
The public reaction to this practice is mixed. Naming rights sold to new venues have largely been accepted, especially if the buyer is well-established and has strong local connections to the area, such as the cases of Rich Stadium (now New Era Field) in the Buffalo suburb of Orchard Park, Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, and Coors Field in Denver. Selling the naming rights to an already-existing venue has been notably less successful, as in the attempt to rename Candlestick Park in San Francisco to 3Com Park. The general public (and some media outlets) continued to call the facility what it had been known as for over three decades–i.e. Candlestick Park. After the agreement with 3Com expired, the rights were resold to Monster Cable, and the stadium was renamed Monster Park. San Francisco voters responded by passing an initiative (Proposition H) in the November 2004 elections that essentially stipulated the name must revert to Candlestick Park once the contract with Monster expired in 2008. The initiative proved largely ceremonial, however, and it was overturned by the passage of Proposition C in 2009 in response to desperate economic times. The naming rights to the park were never resold and the stadium closed in 2014.
Sports stadiums with naming rights deals are not limited to the United States. "Named" stadiums can be found in countries including Australia, Japan, China, Finland, Canada, Israel and Germany, where 8 of the 10 largest football stadiums have their naming rights sold to corporate sponsors. The practice is widening in the United Kingdom; for instance the current stadium of Bolton Wanderers is the University of Bolton Stadium (after 17 years as Reebok Stadium and 4 as Macron Stadium) and Arsenal Football Club's stadium (opened for the 2006/2007 season) is the Emirates Stadium, their previous ground being Highbury Stadium. In cricket, the most famous example is The Oval, home of Surrey County Cricket Club. It has had several sponsors over the years, and is currently known as "The Kia Oval", having originally been known as the "Kennington Oval", the district of London in which it is.
While the highest prices have traditionally been paid for stadium rights, many companies and individuals have found that selling their naming rights can be an important consideration in funding their business. In the last few years many new categories have opened up, such as the selling of the rights to name a new monkey species for $650,000.
Naming rights to public transit stations have been sold in Las Vegas and Philadelphia (AT&T Station and Jefferson Station). Such sales have been contemplated in New York and Boston, and ruled out in San Francisco. A sponsorship for the MBTA's State Street station by Citizens Bank lasted from 1997 to 2000. In Tampa, naming rights for both streetcar stations and rolling stock are available.
In December 2016, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority approved a naming rights policy for its facilities and routes, but later rescinded the policy two months later over potential lawsuits for skipping sponsors.
Naming rights also extend outside stadiums in the realm of sports.
In association football, leagues and cup competitions sometimes adopt the name of their sponsors. For example, England's Premier League was known as the Barclays Premier League until 2016, and its FA Cup is officially the Emirates FA Cup. The Premier League announced in 2015 that it would not accept a title sponsorship beginning in the 2016–17 season.
In college football, all of the Division I bowl games have either modified or abandoned their traditional names in favor of title sponsors. While most include the traditional name in some form (e.g., Capital One Orange Bowl, The Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual), there have been bowl games that have totally eliminated their traditional name in favor of solely using a corporate sponsor's name in an effort to dissuade fans from using a generic name (for instance, the former Tangerine Bowl is now the Camping World Bowl, and the Gator Bowl was for a time known as the TaxSlayer Bowl), a move that generally is treated with consternation from fans. Team names and even whole leagues have occasionally been sold to corporate sponsors as well (examples include the New York Red Bulls in the former case, the NET10 Wireless Arena Football League for the latter), but this is generally rare in the United States and more common in other parts of the world.
During the 1980s, sanctioned auto races in NASCAR and IndyCar began to abandon their traditional names in favor of exclusive sponsor names. The trend expanded rapidly in NASCAR such that in 1991, all 29 races in the Winston Cup Series featured sponsor names (including the Daytona 500, which was given a presenting sponsor as the Daytona 500 by STP), with little or no reference to the original names. As of the 2010s, very few exceptions remain in NASCAR (such as the Daytona 500, which no longer uses the presenting sponsor), and typically races without sponsor names only lack them because a suitable sponsor could not be secured in enough time. IndyCar follows suit, with most races (except the very traditional Indianapolis 500) embracing title sponsorship. Sports media coverage (such as ESPN news reports) typically refer to races by the town in which the home race track is held, avoiding the use of sponsored names in news coverage.
Television and radio series, especially in the early days of each medium, frequently sold the naming rights to their programs to sponsors, most of whom bankrolled the program; examples include Texaco Star Theatre and The Philco Television Playhouse. This form of sponsorship fell out of favor in the late 1950s.
In some places, and especially in the UK and United States, the naming or renaming of arenas or events is often met with disapproval from the general public. Some people see it as an example of a selling out, especially when they see no obvious benefit to themselves. They often refuse to use a new name, preferring instead to use a non-branded name, especially in colloquial situations. Rebranding can also lead to confusion. In such cases, there may be a lengthy period during which the property is known by both names. A common example is Willis Tower in Chicago which was and often still is referred to as the "Sears Tower", even though the building was sold some time ago.
Sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup, UEFA Euro, Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games prohibit the use of corporate-sponsored name on stadiums, construing the practice as a form of ambush marketing. Any stadium that uses a corporate-purchased name must always be referred to in all event-related media (including live broadcasts) by a generic name (e.g., General Motors Place was referred to as "Canada Hockey Place" during the 2010 Winter Olympics). The regular corporate signage of a site, including billboards and deck advertising, is usually covered up in these cases; in the FIFA case the signage is replaced solely with FIFA sponsors. However, with the near-universal use of LED ribbon boards, scoreboards, and sideline boardings since the mid-2000s in most major league sites where only known sponsors have advertising displayed, "neutralizing" an arena has become a much easier process than in the past.
A nonprofit organization has the option to recognize a major gift from a donor by bestowing naming rights to a property in recognition of the financial support. This is not a financial transaction in the style of the private sector. For example, in honor of the more than $60 million donated over the years by one donor to the National Air and Space Museum properties, the directors of the Smithsonian Institution chose to name its satellite facility in Loudoun County, Virginia, after the donor, calling it the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.
Banterra Center (formerly SIU Arena) is an 8,339-seat multi-purpose arena, on the campus of Southern Illinois University, in Carbondale, Illinois, United States. Construction on the arena began in the spring of 1962 and took nearly two years to complete. It was completed in 1964 and is the home of the SIU Salukis basketball team.Bridgestone Arena
Bridgestone Arena (originally Nashville Arena, and formerly Gaylord Entertainment Center and Sommet Center) is a multi-purpose venue in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, that was completed in 1996, and is the home of the Nashville Predators of the National Hockey League.Broncos Stadium at Mile High
Broncos Stadium at Mile High, previously known as Invesco Field at Mile High and Sports Authority Field at Mile High, and commonly known as Mile High, New Mile High or Mile High Stadium, is an American football stadium in Denver, Colorado, named Mile High due to the city's elevation of 5,280 feet (1,610 m). The primary tenant is the Denver Broncos of the National Football League (NFL). It opened in 2001 to replace Mile High Stadium and was largely paid for by taxpayers. Invesco paid $120 million for the original naming rights, before Sports Authority secured them in 2011.Despite its sponsor's liquidation and closure in 2016, the Sports Authority name remained on the stadium for two years afterwards because of regulatory hurdles. Nevertheless, the Broncos announced on January 2, 2018 that the stadium's exterior signage would be removed. The stadium took on its current name on a temporary basis on June 20, 2018 after the city's stadium authority approved the change, hoping to resell naming rights.Enterprise Center
Enterprise Center is an 18,400-seat arena located in downtown St. Louis, Missouri, United States. Its primary tenant is the St. Louis Blues of the National Hockey League, but it is also used for other functions, such as NCAA basketball, NCAA hockey, concerts, professional wrestling and more. In a typical year, the facility hosts about 175 events. Industry trade publication Pollstar has previously ranked Enterprise Center among the top ten arenas worldwide in tickets sold to non-team events, but the facility has since fallen into the upper sixties, as of 2017.The arena opened in 1994 and was known as Kiel Center until 2000, Savvis Center from 2000 to 2006, and Scottrade Center from 2006 to 2018. On May 21, 2018, the St. Louis Blues and representatives of Enterprise Holdings, based in St. Louis, announced that the naming rights had been acquired by Enterprise and that the facility's name would change to Enterprise Center, effective July 1, 2018.List of current National Football League stadiums
This article is a list of current National Football League stadiums, sorted by capacity, their locations, their first year of usage, and home teams. Although the National Football League (NFL) has 32 teams, there are only 31 full-time NFL stadiums because the New York Giants and New York Jets share MetLife Stadium. This number is scheduled to decrease to 30 when the Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers will begin to share Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park in 2020.
The newest full-time NFL stadium is Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, home of the Atlanta Falcons, which opened for the 2017 season. Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, temporary home of the Los Angeles Rams, is the oldest, having opened in 1923.
The NFL uses several other stadiums on a regular basis in addition to the teams' designated regular home sites. In England, two London venues—Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and Wembley Stadium—are contracted to host a combined four games per season, as part of the NFL International Series which runs through 2020. The former is the newest stadium that hosts NFL games, having opened in April 2019. Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, Mexico, will also host a NFL International Series game in 2019. In addition, Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio, is the location of the annual exhibition Pro Football Hall of Fame Game. Since 2016, Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida has hosted the Pro Bowl.
The majority of current NFL stadiums have sold naming rights to corporations. As of the 2018 season, Arrowhead Stadium, Lambeau Field, Paul Brown Stadium, and Soldier Field have never sold naming rights, while Broncos Stadium at Mile High have previously sold naming rights. The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum—a temporary NFL venue—has sold their naming rights in a deal that will officially change the stadium's name in August 2019.M
M (named em ) is the thirteenth letter of the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet.Marina Auto Stadium
Marina Auto Stadium is a soccer-specific stadium in Rochester, New York. It is currently home to the Rochester Lancers and Lady Lancers of the NPSL and UWS, respectively. The stadium previously hosted the Rochester Rhinos of the USL, the Rochester Rattlers of MLL, and the Western New York Flash of the NWSL. The stadium hosts other sporting events such as collegiate soccer, Rochester Rhinos Elite youth soccer games and practices, American football, field hockey and drum and bugle corps competitions as well as concerts, as well as occasionally hosting the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) Section V football championship and Far West Regional championship (played between Sections V and VI).New Era Field
New Era Field, originally Rich Stadium and known as Ralph Wilson Stadium from 1998 to 2015, is a stadium in Orchard Park, New York, a suburb south of Buffalo. Opened in 1973, it is the home of the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League (NFL). New Era Cap Company holds the stadium's naming rights.Progressive Field
Progressive Field is a baseball park located in the downtown area of Cleveland, Ohio, United States. It is the home field of the Cleveland Indians of Major League Baseball and, together with Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, is part of the Gateway Sports and Entertainment Complex. It was ranked as Major League Baseball's best ballpark in a 2008 Sports Illustrated fan opinion poll.The ballpark opened as Jacobs Field in 1994 to replace Cleveland Stadium, which the team had shared with the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League. Since 2008, the facility has been named for Progressive Corporation, based in the Cleveland suburb of Mayfield, which purchased naming rights for $58 million over 16 years. The previous name came from team owners Richard and David Jacobs, who had acquired naming rights when the facility opened. The ballpark is still often referred to as The Jake based on its original name.When it opened, the listed seating capacity was 42,865 people and between 1995 and 2001 the team sold out 455 consecutive regular-season games. Modifications over the years resulted in several moderate changes to the capacity, peaking at 45,569 in 2010. After the 2014 and 2015 seasons, the facility was renovated in two phases, which upgraded and reconfigured several areas of the park and reduced seating capacity. As of 2019, seating capacity is listed at 34,788 people, though additional fans can be accommodated through standing room areas and temporary seating.
Since moving to Progressive Field, the Indians have won 10 Central Division titles and have hosted playoff games in 11 seasons, the most recent being in 2018. Progressive Field is one of the few facilities in baseball history to host the Major League Baseball All-Star Game and games of the World Series in the same season, which occurred in 1997. The Indians have hosted games of the American League Championship Series in five seasons and have advanced to the World Series three times at the park.SeatGeek Stadium
SeatGeek Stadium is a soccer-specific stadium at 71st Street and Harlem Avenue in Bridgeview, Illinois, about twelve miles southwest of downtown Chicago. It is the home stadium of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club of Major League Soccer (MLS) and the Chicago Red Stars of the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL). The stadium has also hosted the Chicago Machine of Major League Lacrosse and the Chicago Bliss of the Legends Football League (LFL). Originally named Toyota Park when it opened on June 11, 2006, the facility has a capacity of 20,000 and was developed at a cost of around $100 million. The naming rights agreement with SeatGeek went into effect following the Fire's 2018 season.State Farm Stadium
State Farm Stadium, formerly known as University of Phoenix Stadium, is a multi-purpose American football stadium located in Glendale, Arizona, west of Phoenix. It is the home of the Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League (NFL) and the annual Fiesta Bowl. It replaced Tempe's Sun Devil Stadium as the Valley of the Sun's main stadium. The stadium is adjacent to the Gila River Arena, home of the Arizona Coyotes NHL team.
The stadium has hosted the Fiesta Bowl, the 2007, 2011 and 2016 College Football Playoff National Championships, Super Bowl XLII in 2008, the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl XLIX in 2015, and will host Super Bowl LVII in 2023. It was one of the stadiums for the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup and the Copa América Centenario in 2016. It hosted the NCAA Final Four in 2017 and will do so again in 2024.
The University of Phoenix acquired the naming rights in September 2006, shortly after the stadium had opened under the name Cardinals Stadium and retained the rights until September 2018 when State Farm acquired the naming rights. The Cardinals and State Farm reached agreement on an 18-year commitment that resulted in the team’s home venue becoming State Farm Stadium.Sugarloaf Mills
Sugarloaf Mills, formerly Discover Mills, is a 1,183,000-square-foot (109,900 m2) single story shopping mall in suburban Atlanta, located in Gwinnett County, Georgia with 172 specialty retailers. The mall features 13 anchors as well as a variety of theme restaurants, casual dining and entertainment venues. The mall opened in November 2001, originally as an outlet mall, but has begun to evolve into an entertainment mall, with the additions of AMC Sugarloaf Mills 18 on December 17, 2003 and Medieval Times on July 21 of 2006. The mall is also notable in that it had granted naming rights to interested companies, and was one of the first malls in the United States to do so. The Mills Corporation, the original owner of the mall, had granted the naming rights to Discover Card, and thus originally given the name Discover Mills as well as the tag line "Where Discover Card Is The Smart Choice". Simon Property Group is the current owner of Discover Mills from the Mills Corporation's acquisition. In October 2012, the 10-year naming rights with Discover Card ended, and the mall was renamed "Sugarloaf Mills." This was the mall's planned name when it was first developed in the late 1990s, named after the parkway the mall is located on.Vivint Smart Home Arena
Vivint Smart Home Arena is an indoor arena located in Salt Lake City, Utah. The building is owned by the Miller Family Legacy Trust. The arena is the home of the Utah Jazz of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and has been the home venue for other professional athletic teams such as the Utah Blaze of the Arena Football League and the Utah Starzz of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). It seats 18,306 for basketball, has 56 luxury suites, and 668 club seats.
Opened in 1991, the arena was known as the Delta Center, under a naming rights deal with Delta Air Lines, which has a hub at Salt Lake City International Airport. Salt Lake City-based EnergySolutions purchased the naming rights in November 2006, after Delta decided not to renew their 15-year contract due to filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy the year prior. From 2006 to 2015, it was known as EnergySolutions Arena. On October 26, 2015, the arena was renamed as part of a 10-year naming rights contract with the Provo-based home security system provider Vivint.The arena was also home to the figure skating and short track speed skating competitions of the 2002 Winter Olympics, where it was referred to as the Salt Lake Ice Center.WakeMed Soccer Park
WakeMed Soccer Park is a major soccer complex located in Cary, North Carolina, United States. Originally opened in 2002 as the home of the Carolina Courage of the WUSA, WakeMed Soccer Park is now the home to North Carolina FC of the United Soccer League and the North Carolina Courage of the National Women's Soccer League. The North Carolina State Wolfpack men's and women's teams of the ACC play select matches there and the complex regularly hosts major tournaments such as the NCAA College Cup, the ACC Soccer Championships, and the NCHSAA high school state soccer finals.
The soccer complex consists of a purpose-built, soccer-specific main stadium, two lighted practice fields, and four additional fields. The main stadium and the two lighted fields (2 & 3) are all FIFA international regulation size (120 by 75 yards (110 m × 69 m)). The main stadium seats 10,000. Field 2 also has 1,000 permanent bleacher seats.
The complex also sports a full-length, nationally recognized cross-country course and houses the offices of Triangle Professional Soccer.
SAS Institute, a Cary-based software company, had naming rights to the soccer park through June 30, 2007 with the option to extend their naming rights for an additional three years. On September 27, 2007, the Town of Cary announced that SAS had not exercised their option on the naming rights and that WakeMed Health & Hospitals had purchased the naming rights to the stadium. Effective January 1, 2008, the stadium became known as WakeMed Soccer Park. The naming rights agreement with Cary is good for three years and cost $300,000 per year.On March 31, 2017, it was announced that Sahlen Packing Company had acquired naming rights to the main stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park, thus becoming Sahlen's Stadium. Sahlen's will pay $400,000 over 5 years for the rights, with $100,000 going to the town of Cary and the rest to the North Carolina Courage.Wells Fargo Center (Philadelphia)
The Wells Fargo Center is a multi-purpose arena located in Philadelphia. It serves as the home of the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League (NHL), the Philadelphia 76ers of the National Basketball Association (NBA), the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League (AFL) and the Philadelphia Wings of the National Lacrosse League (NLL). The arena lies at the southwest corner of the South Philadelphia Sports Complex, which includes Lincoln Financial Field, Citizens Bank Park, and Xfinity Live!.
The Wells Fargo Center, originally called Spectrum II, was completed in 1996 to replace the Spectrum as the home arena of the 76ers and Flyers, on the former site of John F. Kennedy Stadium at a cost of $210 million, largely privately financed (though the city and state helped to pay for the local infrastructure). It is owned by Comcast Spectacor, which also owns the Flyers, and is operated by its arena-management subsidiary, Global Spectrum. Since opening, it has been known by a number of different names through naming rights deals and bank mergers, including CoreStates Center from 1996 to 1998, First Union Center from 1998 to 2003, and Wachovia Center from 2003 to 2010. Since 2010, naming rights have been held by financial services company Wells Fargo, after their merger with Wachovia.
In addition to hosting home games for its main tenants, the arena has been the site of a number of other notable athletic events including Games 1 and 2 from the 1997 and Games 3, 4 and 6 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals, Games 3, 4 and 5 of the 2001 NBA Finals, and various collegiate events for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Wells Fargo Center has hosted two political conventions, hosting the 2000 Republican National Convention and 2016 Democratic National Convention. The arena is a regular venue for concerts and WWE events. The arena has a concert seating capacity of 21,000 seated and at least 21,500 standing.