The Bay Area now has the distinction of having the two worst named football stadiums in the National Football League. First there was the Oakland Coliseum, which after a few name changes is now called the O.co Coliseum. But now announced this morning the new San Francisco 49ers stadium will be named, wait for it, Levi’s Stadium. No, that is not a typo, and as much as I personally wish it wasn’t true, it is.
The brand new $1.2 billion stadium which is set to open at the start of the 2014 NFL season will go by Levi’s Stadium for the next 20 years, with an option to extend it to 25 years. Levi’s has partnered with the 49ers on a naming rights deal that will pay the team and the city of Santa Clara $220 million over 20 years, which is $11 million annually. This ranks as the second highest football stadium deal in this history of naming rights deals and the third highest deal of all professional sporting stadiums just behind Citi Field in Flushing, NY (home of the New York Mets – $20 million annually) and Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. (home of the New York Jets and Giants – $17-$20 million annually).
These types of naming right deal values are not uncommon and certainly won’t last as one of the highest annual values. Farmers Field, if it ever gets built, was listed as a 30 year deal at $20 million annually. It will be very interesting to see how much money the new NFL stadiums in Minnesota (opening in 2016) and Atlanta (opening in 2017) will generate. That is if they opt for a naming rights deal.
In the NFL, there are eight stadiums that currently do not have a corporate sponsorship naming rights deal. Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City Chiefs), Candlestick Park (San Francisco 49ers), Cowboys Stadium (Dallas Cowboys), Georgia Dome (Atlanta Falcons), Lambeau Field (Green Bay Packers), Paul Brown Stadium (Cincinnati Bengals), Ralph Wilson Stadium (Buffalo Bills) and Soldier Field (Chicago Bears). That number will drop to seven next year when Levi’s Stadium opens. So the question remains, why would these seven facilities not don a corporate name or logo on the façade of their building? Each team/building owner has their own opinion on naming rights deals but some felt that by having a corporate name attached to the stadium the only message it sends to fans is that they sold out. A great paper on the debate between having a corporate name attached to the stadium or to not have a corporate name can be found here.
Going back to the 49ers naming rights deal, one thing did kind of surprise me about the decision to go with Levi’s Stadium. Santa Clara is in the heart of Silicon Valley and with so many tech companies based in that area, it’s surprising that the stadium is not called Apple Field, Yahoo! Stadium, or Google Park. Levi’s Stadium is not the most attractive of names but money talks. Levi’s beat out 31 other companies that bid for naming rights on the stadium. Levi’s does have roots in the Bay Area and was founded in San Francisco back in 1853. With an annual revenue of $4.4 billion, $11 million a year to the 49ers and to the city of Santa Clara seems like a drop in the bucket.
Will Levi’s see any return on investment? Only time will tell and with naming rights deals, it’s never cut and dry. Does seeing the Levi’s name and logo on a professional NFL stadium make you want to go out and purchase a pair of Levi’s? It will absolutely get the Levi’s name out there even more than it already is, especially since the 49ers and Levi’s Stadium are the front runner to host the 2016 Super Bowl. The biggest question now is…will Jim Harbaugh get rid of his traditional tan khaki’s and put on a pair of Levi’s 501 Jeans?
- Levi’s Stadium: 49ers’ new Santa Clara home gets a name (mercurynews.com)
- Levi’s Stadium: 5 things to know about the 49ers naming rights deal (bizjournals.com)