The Jets and Giants Tuesday took up MetLife on its familiar old ad campaign suggestion, "Get Met. It Pays," signing with the New York-based insurance company to put its name on the teams' jointly owned stadium.
The 25-year agreement ended a long, frustrating search for a naming rights sponsor that left the costliest stadium in American history to endure its first year called, generically, New Meadowlands Stadium.
Owners of both teams said the wait was worth it. "It took a while, but you know what? We found the right partner," Giants president John Mara said during a news conference that ended shortly before the building began to shake during the earthquake.
Terms were not announced and naming rights deals are complex. But estimates of its value ranged from $16 million-$20 million per year. Mara called it the largest naming rights deal in the NFL. The bonus, as with the Mets' Citi Field, was a simple, New York-flavored name.
"I'm sure we can all think of names that would have been much more complicated, much more inappropriate and much more difficult to remember," Giants chairman Steve Tisch said.
In MetLife, the teams found a locally-owned company that has been around nearly a century and half. Beth Hirschhorn, MetLife's chief marketing officer, said the company has no problem with brand recognition. But it could use, she said, the "energy" and "dynamism" offered by the Jets and Giants.
MetLife has been a "corner sponsor" since before the stadium opened. Its presence in one corner will remain for now, but that spot is up for sale.
As part of the deal, the Meadowlands sports complex will be renamed for MetLife. Steve Kandarian, MetLife's president, said it would have been struck even without the stadium landing the 2014 Super Bowl. Joked Mara: "Now you tell me!" But both sides indicated the Super Bowl did raise the value of the contract.
Stadium CEO Mark Lamping called the naming the "most anticipated" in pro sports in an era in which such deals were slowed by the recession. The Cowboys' stadium is entering its third season, still without a sponsored name.
MetLife offers not only a strong brand but a long, familiar ad campaign built around the fictitious dog Snoopy. Tisch turned to Jets owner Woody Johnson and joked, "You keep Plaxico [Burress]; we'll take Snoopy."
Still to be determined is whether an obvious nickname emerges for the stadium: How about The Met? "It's OK with me," Mara said, smiling, "as long as the checks clear."