Analysis: Super Bowl should hasten naming deal

A file photo, an exterior view of the

A file photo, an exterior view of the new Meadowlands Stadium, home of the New York Giants and the New York Jets. (April 8, 2010) (Credit: AP )

It's the stadium that has almost everything, as one would hope for a price tag of $1.7 billion.

More seats and more suites, more concourses and food courses, and now even a Super Bowl, a mere 44 months away. The place even has been filled twice already, once for soccer, and last night for Bon Jovi.

But one thing remains missing - glaringly, awkwardly, expensively missing: a name.

Well, technically it has a name. It's just a clunky one all concerned would like to scrub from history as soon as possible.

As the stadium CEO, Mark Lamping, put it Wednesday, "We're not really interested in building up the equity in 'New Meadowlands.' ''

Lamping spoke after a celebratory news conference that featured two governors, three owners and two NFL coaches, united on at least one point: that playing Super Bowl XLVIII at the Meadowlands is a very good idea.

Among the many reasons is a potentially crucial business one: The massive attention the 2014 Super Bowl bid attracted - and that the game itself will attract - can only help at last secure a naming rights sponsor.

"It would be nice not to call it 'New Meadowlands Stadium' anymore,'' said Matt Higgins, the Jets' executive VP for business.

"It is better than 'Giants Stadium,' from our perspective at least, but nonetheless it would be nice to have that partner in place, and this is only going to help."

If the Super Bowl bid does inspire a sponsor to shell out $20 million a year or more on a long-term deal, it will be the biggest way in which the Jets and Giants benefit financially from the 2014 game.

Other than that, it is a break-even proposition at best, with the host committee estimating it must raise more than $40 million to put on the event.

But the notion of jump-starting the naming rights process should not be discounted.

In 2008, talks with the German company Allianz were "pretty far along,'' Giants president John Mara said, before falling apart amid negative publicity about the company's past ties to the Nazi regime.

Soon the entire sponsorship market was turning sour along with the economy, and naming rights were viewed negatively for companies in distress, as with Citigroup's sponsorship of the Mets' stadium.

The tide has begun to turn, though. "We went a few months without there being any conversations, and that has changed," Mara said.

The stadium has secured sponsorships for each of its four corners, but the naming deal is the big one, and most daunting. Lamping said there is a limited universe of companies that can support a deal of that magnitude.

The Dolphins' oft-renamed stadium signed with Sun Life just before this year's Super Bowl for a reported $7.5 million per year for five years, but NMS plans to have a new name in place much further in advance.

Then again, Cowboys Stadium is hosting the big game in 2011 and still doesn't have a sponsor's name on its side.

"It's a little apples and oranges,'' Lamping said. "The Cowboys, while they don't have a commercial name on their stadium, they have a name on the stadium that is bringing value to the Cowboys brand. In some respects the same thing is true with Yankee Stadium."

As Lamping said, there isn't much branding value in the New Meadowlands name. But there is vast value in Super Bowl hype.

"From folks we've talked to in the industry, there's a lot of excitement about the fact we got the Super Bowl," Higgins said.

Said Mara: "Just the amount of attention this has drawn to the building over the last few days and will continue to draw I think is going to be a very positive aspect of this.

"We're just determined to get the right deal, because it's going to be a long-term deal. So if we have to wait a little bit, we'll wait a little bit."

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