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NEGOTIATING, DRAFTING, AND IMPLEMENTING

NAMING RIGHTS AGREEMENTS
GENE W. ALLEN*
I. INTRODUCTION ...................................................................... 790
II. THE CONCEPTUAL STADIUM .............................................. 791
III. DOMINANCE AND PROMINENCE........................................ 792
IV. STADIUM NAME...................................................................... 793
V. CATEGORY EXCLUSIVITY.................................................... 795
VI. SIGNAGE................................................................................... 796
VII. DIGITAL DISPLAY BOARDS ................................................. 798
VIII. THE STADIUM LOGO.............................................................. 799
IX. GUERRILLA MARKETING..................................................... 800
X. OTHER BENEFITS AND THE GOODIE LIST........................ 801
A. SUITE.................................................................................... 802
1. Furnishings, Decor, and Alterations.............................. 803
2. Use of the Suite............................................................... 803
3. Repair and Maintenance ................................................ 805
4. Access............................................................................. 805
B. TICKETS ............................................................................... 805
C. PARKING PASSES.................................................................. 805
D. CLUB MEMBERSHIPS............................................................ 805
E. CONCERTS AND OTHER PUBLIC EVENTS ............................. 806
F. PRIME SEAT PURCHASE PRIORITY....................................... 806
G. VIP EVENTS AND RECEPTIONS ............................................ 807
*Copyright Gene W. Allen, 2011. All rights reserved. Mr. Allen is a lawyer with McGee,
Hankla, Backes, & Dobrovolny, P.C., in Minot, North Dakota where he focuses on transactions
involving Oil & Gas, Commercial Real Estate, Sports Facilities, and Mergers & Acquisitions.
790 NORTH DAKOTA LAW REVIEW [VOL. 86:789
H. TRAVEL AND OTHER EXPERIENCES NOT FOR SALE TO THE
GENERAL PUBLIC................................................................. 807
XI. SUCCESSES AND FAILURES OF NAMING SPONSORS .... 807
XII. CONCLUSION........................................................................... 810
APPENDIX A........................................................................................ 812
I. INTRODUCTION
Naming rights deals involving high profile sports venues are big league
marketing plays involving complex negotiations culminating in detailed,
lengthy contracts and multimillion-dollar investments. When a venue
owner trying to sell naming rights for a ballpark, stadium, or arena
approaches a client, the responsibility of the client`s counsel includes dis-
cussing marketing strategy with the client and learning as much as possible
about the client`s target customer demographics and how the client makes
marketing decisions. If the client markets goods and services to consumers,
it may benefit from the name recognition and exposure that a stadium
naming deal can provide. If the client is accustomed to investing only in
direct mail, newspaper, and radio advertising that includes some means of
measuring response rates, it may not be interested in naming rights;
however, that alone is not a compelling reason to reject a naming rights
proposal. Many naming companies have acquired naming rights in con-
junction with new or expanded business relationships with the team or
stadium owner. If the client or the client`s counsel can identify potential
new business opportunities that result directly from a naming rights
agreement, such opportunities may also be a means of measuring the
client`s return on its marketing investment in naming rights. Additionally,
if the client`s marketing plan includes a significant investment in so-called
institutional advertising, which places emphasis on the image of the
company instead of its products and services, it may find naming a sports
venue is a good way to enhance its image and to receive national television,
radio, and print media exposure.
Terms of naming rights agreements generally range from fifteen to
twenty-five years. However, some terms have been as short as five years
and as long as for the life of the facility. Examples include Newman
Outdoor Advertising acquiring perpetual naming rights to Newman
2010] NAMING AGREEMENTS 791
Outdoor Field in Fargo, North Dakota;
1
Alexian Brothers Health Systems,
Inc. acquiring a ten-year deal to name Alexian Field in Schaumburg,
Illinois;
2
Quest Communications, Inc. agreeing to a fifteen-year naming
rights deal to Quest Field in Seattle, Washington;
3
and Amway obtaining a
five-year deal to name Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida.
4
II. THE CONCEPTUAL STADIUM
Naming agreements include a lengthy set of definitions. If a structure
is already designed or built, the agreement can more precisely define the
size and location of signage and other design features that will display the
naming sponsor`s corporate name or logo. However, if the naming agree-
ment is drafted while the stadium project is still in the planning stages, it is
not unusual for parties to only have a rough idea about the size and type of
stadium to be constructed. There may not even be blueprints or renderings
available, so counsel for a naming sponsor must consider other examples of
state-of-the-art ballparks and develop contract language taking into account
all possibilities. Under such circumstances, the agreement may be im-
precise about potential stadium construction, but the attorney is responsible
for drafting a document that is flexible enough to cover all of the eventual
design possibilities.
Although possibly difficult with no stadium in existence, counsel
drafting an agreement must carefully consider the inclusion of specific
objective standards and technical specifications regarding the location, type,
and size of signage identifying the naming sponsor, which will be inside
and outside of the venue. In order to develop the specifications and
properly represent the best interests of the client, consultation and assist-
ance of experts in illumination, signage, and logo design may be necessary.
Once the parties are able to conceptually envision the stadiumor if the
1. See Newman Outdoor Field, GOBISON.COM, http://www.gobison.com/ViewArticle.dbml?
DB_OEM_ID=2400&ATCLID=69830 (last visited June 6, 2011) (providing information about
the field); see also Stadium Photos, FMREDHAWKS.COM, http://fmredhawks.com/stadium/
photos/ (last visited June 6, 2011) (displaying pictures of Newman Outdoor Field).
2. See History, SCHAUMBURG FLYERS, http://www flyersbaseball.com/about-the-flyers/
history.aspx (last visited June 6, 2011), Eric Peterson, Flyers Field Will Keep Name For 9 Years,
DAILY J., Apr. 19, 2005, at 4. See generally Schaumburg Flyers, FLYERSBASEBALL.COM,
http://www flyersbaseball.com/splash.aspx (last visited June 6, 2011) (providing general infor-
mation about the Flyers).
3. Angelo Bruscas, 'Quest Field` Approved. Seahawks Stadium Receives New Name,
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, June 25, 2004, at D2, available at http://www.seattlepi.com/
default/article/Qwest-Field-approved-1147964.php.
4. See The Arena in Orlando To Become Amway Arena, NBA.COM (Dec. 7, 2006), http://
www.nba.com/magic/news/The_arena_in_Orlando_To_Become-198984-800 html. In February
of 2000, TD Waterhouse agreed to pay $7.89 million over five years for naming rights to the
Orlando arena, with an option to extend two more years for an additional $1.718 million per year.
792 NORTH DAKOTA LAW REVIEW [VOL. 86:789
stadium is already in existencecounsel representing a naming sponsor
must consider how its name will appear in the facility.
III. DOMINANCE AND PROMINENCE
An attorney representing a naming sponsor must ensure the client has
relative prominence and dominance among other corporate sponsors and
donors having a presence in the stadium. This prominence must, to the
greatest extent practicable, be present in the embodiment of the stadium
structure and each and every game or event occurring at the facility. The
assurance of such results requires careful attention to contractual provisions
dealing with sponsors acquiring naming rights for the different components
of the stadium, exclusivity, and advertising, which includes all forms of
digital and fixed signage appearing in or on the facility.
Looking to the experiences of other naming sponsors can help prevent
problems that may occur. For example, a client does not want its name
faded into the background like the naming sponsor for Target Center, the
home court of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Target Center opened in 1990,
and Target`s name was initially the only corporate name on the building.
The name 'Target Center¨ was artfully and tastefully integrated into the
architectural design. Over subsequent years, though, large new signs were
erected on the exterior wall for the benefit of a number of other sponsors
including Miller Genuine Draft, Miller Lite, Pepsi, Toyota, U.S. Bank, and
NBA City Restaurant. On the prime corner of the Target Center building in
downtown Minneapolis, the identity of the naming sponsor has been almost
entirely eclipsed by branding promoting other sponsors. Target was the
naming sponsor of the Timberwolves arena, but Target was neither
dominant nor prominent among the corporate sponsors on the building`s
exterior.
5
In September, 2011, when Target Corporation agreed to extend
the naming agreement with the Timberwolves, the sponsor took steps to
reclaim some of the exterior naming real estate by including a condition that
the high profile signage location visible from Target Field will be controlled
by Target and the Sanford Health sign occupying that space will be
replaced.
6
Target was a pioneer in naming rights, but it was not alone when it
came to having its brand upstaged in the very facility they paid millions to
name. Many of the early naming rights deals did not contemplate the
5. John Vomhof, Jr., Target Centers Naming Rights Up For Grabs, MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL
BUS. J., May 6, 2011, http://www.bizjournals.com/twincities/print-edition/2011/05/06/Target-
centers-naming-rights-are-up-for html.
6. See NBAs Wolves To Remove Arena Ad, ESPN.COM, http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/
7060886/minnesota-timberwolves-take-ad-seen-target-field (last visted Oct. 5, 2011).
2010] NAMING AGREEMENTS 793
building owner allowing other sponsors to undermine the naming sponsor`s
visibility. Even Xcel Energy`s dominance was marginalized by a large
Wells Fargo sign on the prime corner of the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Surprising, though, the Xcel Center naming deal came ten years after the
Target naming deal and after the manifestation of the signage colossus at
Target Center.
7
While Target Center was the worst case scenario for a naming rights
deal, nearby Target Fieldthe new home of the Minnesota Twinsserves
as an example of the proper balance of dominance, prominence, and good
taste in displaying the logo and name of a naming sponsor. When negoti-
ating and drafting a naming rights agreement, an attorney should take care
to envision how future events and marketing developments may affect the
naming sponsor`s dominance and prominence so as not to repeat the major
failures of exclusivity and prominence at Target Center and Xcel Energy
Center.
8
Counsel should incorporate objective dominance and prominence
standards into all of the critical sections of the agreement, including
provisions dealing with the stadium name, category exclusivity, signage,
and marketing.
IV. STADIUM NAME
The official name, and no other name, and the official stadium logo
should be used in all written and official oral references to the facility. This
is precisely what the naming sponsor is purchasingrepetitive use of the
sponsor`s chosen stadium name. Hyphenation, truncation, or other dilution
of the official name represents a diminution in the value of the intellectual
property acquired by the naming sponsor. In order to ensure only the
official name and logo are used, the agreement between a naming sponsor
and facility owner should require the team and facility operator to include
the official stadium name in all relevant agreements entered into after the
effective date of the naming agreement. The agreement should also include
a provision requiring the other party or parties to refer to the official
stadium name in all written and official oral references to the facility or
events schedule to take place at the facility. In addition, the agreement
should require the team and venue operator to use commercially reasonable
7. See Xcel Energy Center #4788, CGSTOCK.COM, http://www.phototour.minneapolis mn.us/
bob_firth/bob_firth-st_paul/4788 (last visited June 6, 2011) (displaying photographs of Wells
Fargo and Xcel Energy side-by-side with equal prominence above the digital marquee at the
intersection of at Kellogg Boulevard and West Seventh Street in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota).
8. See Minneapolis, STADIUM TRAVEL GUIDE, http://www.stadiumtravelguide.com/
basketball/minneapolis.htm (last visited June 8, 2011) (displaying photographs showing how the
Target name was dominated by other advertisers).
794 NORTH DAKOTA LAW REVIEW [VOL. 86:789
efforts to persuade the applicable state and local transportation agencies to
use the official stadium name or logo in all road and other directional signs
leading to the facility. Finally, the agreement should obligate the team and
facility operator to make commercially reasonable efforts to encourage
local broadcast and print media to refer to the facility by its official name.
Stadium name changes are not uncommon during the course of the
fifteen- to twenty-five-year terms of naming agreements. Names change as
a result of companies mergering, such as the Arizona Diamondbacks now
playing in Chase Field, formerly known as Bank One Ballpark, and the San
Francisco Giants playing in AT&T Park, formerly known as SBC Park and
PacBell Park. Some companies may fail, causing stadium names to change
such as when Enron`s demise changed the Houston Astros ballpark name to
Minute Maid Park.
9
Additionally, stadium names may change as a result of
changing branding strategies. On April 1, 2011, Qwest Communications
completed a merger with CenturyLink, Inc. The new company will use the
CenturyLink brand but will continue to use the Qwest brand in certain
markets during a transition period.
10
The naming agreement should allow the naming sponsor to change the
stadium name if the company is involved in a sale or merger, or if it elects
to change the current name of the company for other strategic business
reasons. Typical naming agreements allow for a new stadium name subject
to the reasonable prior written approval of the team or venue operator.
Counsel for a naming sponsor should include language providing that such
consent to change may not be unreasonably withheld, conditioned, or
delayed. Provisions regarding name change should also require the team
and venue operator to cooperate in promoting the new stadium name.
The team or venue operator is generally responsible for costs of initial
production, installation, and maintenance of all signage referenced in the
agreement, except signage associated with a name change. The naming
sponsor, on the other hand, is usually responsible for paying all costs
associated with changing the stadium name including signage, websites, ad-
vertising, paper products, cup holders, merchandise inventory, and other
items. The naming sponsor often takes responsibility for costs associated
with developing stadium logos and any stylized form of the stadium name,
including costs for third party logo designer services specific to the
development of the artwork and a style manual for the approved forms of
9. See Minute Maid Park, BALLPARKREVIEWS.COM, http://www.ballparkreviews.com/
houston/houston htm# (last visited June 7, 2011).
10. See generally CENTURYLINK.COM, http://ir.centurylink.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=112635&
p=irol-homeprofile (last visited June 7, 2011) (describing the corporate profile of CenturyLink,
Inc.).
2010] NAMING AGREEMENTS 795
the stadium name and marks. This responsibility allows the naming
sponsor to have greater influence over the design of the stadium logo and
allows for integration of the stadium mark into the company`s overall logo
and marketing strategy.
V. CATEGORY EXCLUSIVITY
Exclusivity provisions within a naming agreement prohibit a team and
venue operator from entering into or renewing any corporate sponsorship
for the facility with any competitor of the naming sponsor. A competitor
would include any company the naming sponsor identifies as one providing
competing goods or services or operating in the same industrial sector as
the naming sponsor. The category exclusivity is vital to a naming sponsor
client who is making a large investment in naming rights. Any refusal to
provide the naming sponsor with absolute category exclusivity anywhere on
the ballpark or stadium site is a deal-breaker.
Counsel may agree to carve out exceptions
11
that would allow
temporary signage in connection with certain events or private events
sponsored by competing companies. For example, if the GRAMMY Tour
sponsored by T-Mobile
12
included a concert at Qwest Field, the event
would involve a direct communications competitor of Qwest, but the event
may fall under an exception in the stadium naming agreement that would
permit the concert promoters to display T-Mobile`s name and logo during
and leading up to the concert, on promotional materials, tickets, digital
display boards, temporary signage, and banners at stadium. Similarly, if
Integra Telecom
13
booked a private meeting or event at Qwest Field, the
Seattle Seahawks could allow Integra Telecom`s name and logo during and
leading up to the meeting or event, on promotional materials, tickets, digital
display boards, temporary signage, and banners anywhere in the stadium.
The effect of exclusivity provisions is the prohibition of the team or
venue operator from renewing or executing new agreements that would
allow the mark of any competitor of the naming sponsor to be incorporated
11. For purposes of the naming agreement, an exception may include any event other than a
home game taking place at the facility that is one of a series of related events scheduled to take
place in a number of cities and in numerous stadiums, arenas, or complexes around the country
and that may or may not be sponsored by a company that is a direct competitor of the naming
sponsor. The agreement may also have contractual obligations to include the name of the tour or
event`s sponsoring company and to promote the Iinancial services company as part of the event.
12. See T-Mobile Sponsors 50th GRAMMY Celebration Concert Tour, CELL PHONE DIGEST
(Mar. 12, 2008), http://www.cellphonedigest net/news/2008/03/tmobile_sponsors_50th_grammy_
c.php.
13. Integra Telecom provides communications services in eight states with markets served by
Qwest. See Company Milestones, INTEGRA TELECOM, http://www.integratelecom.com/about/
company_milestones.php (last visited May 30, 2011).
796 NORTH DAKOTA LAW REVIEW [VOL. 86:789
into or displayed on any fixture, sign, digital display board, or promotional
merchandise at the stadium. While typical naming agreements do not re-
quire the team or venue operator to terminate any existing agreement with a
corporate sponsor, they generally prohibit expanding existing agreements to
permit advertising or sponsorships that conflict with the exclusivity
restrictions of the naming agreement.
VI. SIGNAGE
If the naming agreement is for a new facility not yet constructed or in
the process of being built, it should include a provision requiring the team
or venue operator to erect prominent on-site signage during construction
identifying the site of the future location of the facility using the official
stadium name. If the naming agreement is executed before there are blue-
prints and other technical and promotional materials showing the design,
the agreement should require that these materials identify the facility by its
official stadium name and should incorporate the stadium name into
depictions of fixed and digital signage on the exterior and interior of the
facility, including scoreboards and other components of the facility.
The stadium name or logo should be prominently displayed at the top
of any marquee signs or signs attached to the exterior of the facility,
including those incorporating digital display boards. However, counsel for
a naming sponsor should negotiate and draft contract provisions requiring
the client`s name, the stadium name, or logos be displayed on all digital
scoreboard and ribbon light-emitting diode (LED) boards before, during,
and after each game with display time for the naming sponsor`s advertising
specified in the agreement. A naming sponsor client should also receive
one or more full-page color advertisements in each game and event program
with the sponsor`s choice of location. The stadium name or naming
sponsor`s advertisements should appear on the primary websites of the team
and the stadium, as well, and there should be specific stadium web pages
providing information, photos, and directions to the facility. The naming
sponsor`s web advertising and embedded video containing the sponsor`s
current television or video advertisements should also be included on the
stadium web page.
Another step for a naming sponsor`s counsel is to negotiate and draft
provisions requiring the team or venue operator to allow the stadium name
or logo to be prominently displayed in and on all design materials, images,
illustrations, renderings, site plans, blueprints, animation, video or other
depictions that are developed for the facility after the naming agreement is
executed. It is also crucial for a naming sponsor`s counsel to ensure the
agreement requires the team or venue operator to include the official
2010] NAMING AGREEMENTS 797
stadium name or logo in all printed and video promotional or press
materials relating to the stadium or home games.
Contract specifications should include objective specifications re-
quiring the stadium name or logo be visible and readable from the all major
intersections abutting the facility and from the main stadium parking lots.
Any signs prepared for archways and entry gates should include the official
stadium name or logo either in or adjacent to the name of the respective
arch or entry. In addition, the agreement should establish standards regar-
ding the relative size, frequency, and brightness of the team name, logos,
slogans and other marks compared to the size of the stadium name or logo.
First, the stadium name should be at least twenty percent larger than
the team name or logos. Second, the stadium name should be displayed at
least once in relative proximity to each depiction of the team name, logo, or
other mark displayed on the exterior of the facility and on signage inside the
facility. Finally, the illumination standards with regard to the stadium name
and logo should have equal or greater intensity than the illumination of the
team name, logo, or marks. If there is inadequate illumination of the
stadium name or logo, it will be virtually invisible in still photos and video
of night games.
14
In football stadiums, the ideal location for the stadium name or naming
sponsor`s brand is above and between the goal posts behind each end zone
so that each field goal or extra point attempt results in advertising
impressions for the benefit of the naming sponsor. In baseball parks, the
best location for the sponsor`s brand or ballpark name is prominently above
the first level of seating in left field and right field to ensure that the sponsor
will benefit from live and video replays of the majority of home runs hit in
the ballpark. However, another important location for the naming sponsor`s
brand is behind home plate clearly in view of the centerfield camera as it
focuses on the hitter during an at bat as well as in the left center and right
center field gaps in order to augment the naming sponsor`s in-stadium and
television marketing.
It is common during playoffs for television networks to digitally
replace the backstop signage behind home place with advertising promoting
network sponsors. In order to prevent advertising thwarting, the naming
agreement should prohibit digital blocking, replacing, shading, or otherwise
interfering with the visibility of the naming sponsor`s brand, the stadium
name, or the stadium logo with that of any other brand or advertising by
14. See, e.g., TCF Bank Stadium, U. MINN., http://stadium.gophersports.com/multi_photo_
gallery html (last modified Aug. 15, 2008) (displaying several photographs of the University of
Minnesota football stadium showing the stadium logo is invisible in contrast to the bright LED
display of the scoreboard at night).
798 NORTH DAKOTA LAW REVIEW [VOL. 86:789
television stations, networks, or other producers or broadcasters of video
originating in the stadium.
VII. DIGITAL DISPLAY BOARDS
The practical application of exclusivity provisions to the real world
becomes clear when considering the digital display boards that comprise the
large scoreboards and the ribbon of digital LED panels linked end-to-end
along the fascia between the various levels of the stadium. Typical naming
agreements include a specified percentage of the total advertising time on
all digital display boards.
15
When negotiating and drafting the naming
agreement, focus on the elements and details of the formula that will be
used to calculate the sponsor`s share of total advertising time is necessary to
ensure optimal advertisement.
A team and venue operator may not calculate the advertising time the
same way as a naming sponsor client calculates its pro rata share of
advertising on the digital scoreboards and ribbon boards. It is not unusual
for a team or venue operator to segment the digital display space on score-
boards, meaning a large portion in the center of the big screen might be
used to display live game video, instant replays, announcements, cheers,
and commercial video advertising, while smaller portions on the periphery
display between four and eight static, but rotating, commercial ads at one
time.
Consider an example wherein a naming sponsor is entitled to twenty
percent of the total advertising time on the scoreboard. The large digital
board has four commercial segments on each side of the main video area
with each segment approximately twenty feet wide and ten feet tall, totaling
1600 square feet (sq. ft.) of commercial digital advertising at any given
time. If a team or venue operator interprets the allocation provision to mean
the naming sponsor`s messages in one of the segments during twenty
percent of the game satisfies the team`s obligation under the agreement,
counsel for the naming sponsor needs to have carefully drafted these
specifications to protect the client.
A better way to draft an agreement to ensure a client receives its
expected benefit is to identify the naming sponsor`s twenty percent share of
the total advertising time as being twenty percent of the total commercial
digital inventory; i.e., 1600 sq. ft. of advertising during twenty percent of
the game, pregame, and postgame. The effect of such an agreement would
15. Advertising time as it relates to digital display boards refers to the time during which
paid advertisements appear, and does not include time allocated to team cheers, community
service announcements, and other non-commercial material.
2010] NAMING AGREEMENTS 799
be roughly equivalent to one 400 sq. ft. advertisement displayed for thirty
minutes per hour, one 200 sq. ft. advertisement displayed for fifteen
minutes per hour, and another 200 sq. ft. advertisement displayed for
twenty minutes per hour during the pregame, game, game breaks, and
postgame. Consequentially, at least one advertisement for the naming
sponsor would be displayed at all times, and for approximately five minutes
out of every hour, the naming sponsor would have two 200 sq. ft. adver-
tisements running simultaneously, which equates to sixty-five minutes of
coverage per hour and accounts for approximately twenty percent of the
total advertising inventory available for sponsors and advertisers. Table A
illustrates the total commercial digital inventory allocation on a segmented
digital scoreboard.
16
VIII.THE STADIUM LOGO
Most new professional stadiums and ballparks with naming sponsors
have developed a stadium logo. Agreements usually permit a naming
sponsor to develop a stadium logo that, subject to approval of the team or
venue operator, could be used interchangeably with the stadium name by
the naming sponsor, the team, or venue operator when referring to the
facility. Agreeing to pay for the cost of designing the stadium logo allows
the naming sponsor to have greater influence over the ultimate design of the
logo and ensures the logo uses fonts and design elements consistent with
the sponsor`s corporate marks. Stadium logos, like other corporate logos,
are serious business and the best designers incorporate a number of design
elements and marks with significance to the naming sponsor, the team, and
the facility.
17
The investment in designing a first-class stadium logo and stylized
stadium name is a relatively small investment compared to a naming
sponsor`s cost of naming rights. However, if signs are properly positioned,
the logo and stylized stadium name will be frequently displayed in tele-
vision broadcasts, print media, and web photos of game action, which
covers many types of advertising media. Thus, counsel should guide the
client towards having a reputable design firm create the finest quality logo
and stylized stadium name for the facility. The design firm can then
develop a design theme and strategy to integrate signage and other art into
16. See infra Appendix A.
17. See, e.g., Athletic Facility Design, ZEBRADOG, http://www.zebradog.com/results/stadia
(last visited May 30, 2011) (Madison, Wisconsin design Iirm`s website and portIolio); Client Lists
& Services, Phoenix Design Works, http://www.phoenixdesignwords.com/services (last visited
May 30, 2011) (New York City design Iirm`s website and portfolio).
800 NORTH DAKOTA LAW REVIEW [VOL. 86:789
all aspects of the stadium in a way consistent with the naming sponsor`s
branding efforts throughout the venue or campus.
18
IX. GUERRILLA MARKETING
Guerrilla marketing is a strategy introduced by Jay Conrad Levinson as
a low budget, take-no-prisoners method for small businesses to compete
with larger ones.
19
Since Levinson first published his book in 1984,
20
guerrilla marketing strategies have evolved to include ambush marketing
conducted by non-sponsors who exploit the marks, images, goodwill, and
other intellectual property created and made valuable by sports teams,
artists, event promoters, and entertainment and sports venues. Some
guerrilla marketers even utilize counterfeiting as a tactic, but there is a
plethora of more subtle and borderline legal methods employed by others.
For example, guerrilla marketers frequently produce inferior apparel and
other merchandise that play off the legitimate artwork of sports teams.
Sales of unauthorized product take revenue away from authorized vendors
and the owners of the intellectual property.
Counsel for a naming sponsor is unlikely to be concerned about loss of
revenue from unauthorized product, but should be very concerned about
how guerrilla marketers might portray the sponsor or the stadium.
Collegiate and professional sports facilities typically are tagged with hip,
and sometimes unfavorable, nicknames. Counsel must understand these
social dynamics and educate the client and the team or venue operator of
the virtual certainty the stadium will be given a nickname.
Under these circumstances, counsel needs to include provisions regar-
ding an agreed-upon stadium nickname that will be adopted by the parties
and marketed to ensure popular acceptance. Including such a provision also
allows the parties to eliminate the possibility of unfavorable nicknames and
ensures the stadium nickname will be tasteful, serving the best interests of
the sponsor, team, and venue operator.
21
Counsel must encourage the
sponsor, venue operator, and team tenant to collaborate and take necessary
preliminary measures to create licensed apparel and merchandise in order to
18. See, e.g., Facilities, UWBADGERS.COM, http://www.uwbadgers.com/facilities/ (last
visited May 30, 2011); Visit the Hall of Fame, LAMBEAU FIELD, http://www.lambeaufield.com/
hall_of_fame/visit_the_hall_of_fame/ (last visited May 30, 2011).
19. See generally JAY CONRAD LEVINSON, GUERRILLA MARKETING: EASY AND
INEXPENSIVE STRATEGIES FOR MAKING BIG PROFITS FROM YOUR SMALL BUSINESS (4th ed.
2007).
20. See generally JAY CONRAD LEVINSON, GUERRILLA MARKETING: SECRETS FOR MAKING
BIG PROFITS FROM YOUR SMALL BUSINESS (1984).
21. The logo designer is a great resource to develop a suitable stadium nickname and to
design artwork for apparel and merchandise that is compatible with the stadium logo.
2010] NAMING AGREEMENTS 801
drive popular opinion toward the preferred nickname. However, the
nickname artwork should also include the official stadium name or logo
although the official name should be less conspicuous than the nickname.
Nicknames can come from many different types of businesses. For
instances, Café Press sells T-shirts objecting to new stadium names for the
Cleveland Indians ('I STILL CALL IT THE JAKE¨), Chicago White Sox
('I STILL CALL IT COMISKEY¨), and New York Mets ('I`M CALLING
IT SHEA¨).
22
While the items add little to no value to the naming
sponsorsProgressive,
23
U.S. Cellular,
24
or Citigroup,
25
respectivelyat
least they are not offensive or overtly derogatory.
Another example is TCF Bank Stadium, the University of Minnesota
football venue in Minneapolis.
26
Undoubtedly, the university and TCF
wanted to avoid having the stadium inappropriately nicknamed. In order to
do so, their respective marketing people collaborated to create licensed
apparel and merchandise that ultimately helped drive popular opinion
toward the preferred nickname, 'The Bank.¨ TCF even distributed 'Taking
it to the Bank¨ T-shirts to students who opened new accounts. Acceptance
of 'The Bank¨ reached a tipping point nearly a year before the new venue
opened in 2009, providing the best possible outcome for the naming
sponsor and the university.
27
X. OTHER BENEFITS AND THE GOODIE LIST
Naming sponsors have become savvier and are not content with merely
seeing their name on a stadium. For many naming sponsors, the primary
benefit to entering into a naming rights agreement is the opportunity to
extend the term of an ongoing business relationship with the team or venue
owner that is not specifically associated with the stadium itself, or the
22. Stadium Name Changes T-Shirts & Tees, CAFE PRESS, http://www.cafepress.com/+
stadium-name-changes+t-shirts (last visited May 30, 2011).
23. Progressive Field, BALLPARKSOFBASEBALL.COM, http://www.ballparksofbaseball.com/
al/ProgressiveField htm (last visited May 30, 2011).
24. U.S. Cellular Field, CHICAGO WHITE SOX, http://chicago.whitesox mlb.com/cws/
ballpark/index.jsp (last updated Feb. 11, 2011).
25. Citi Field, NEW YORK METS, http://newyork mets mlb.com/nym/ballpark/citifield_
overview.jsp (last updated Feb. 11, 2011).
26. See What Should We Call TCF Bank Stadium?, THE DAILY GOPHER (May 18, 2009,
9:47 PM), http://www.thedailygopher.com/2009/5/18/879543/what-should-we-call-tcf-bank
(suggesting nicknames such as 'The Vault,¨ 'The Bank,¨ 'The Gopher Hole,¨ 'The Money Pit,¨
'The ATM,¨ and 'Prohibition Field¨ in mockery oI the university`s no-alcohol rule at the
stadium).
27. See Roman Augustoviz, Blue Line Club Luncheon at The Bank on Friday, STAR TRIB.,
Dec. 8, 2010, http://www.startribune.com/sports/gophers/blogs/111530599.html; Its Monev in the
Bank, STAR TRIB., Oct. 7, 2010, http://www.startribune.com/sports/gophers/104376223 html?elr=
KArksi8cyaiUjc8LDyiUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aULPQL7PQLanchO7DiUr;.
802 NORTH DAKOTA LAW REVIEW [VOL. 86:789
chance to secure a new business opportunity that will ensure new revenue
for the naming sponsor. Sponsors seek sponsorship relationships that will
generate new business and create opportunities for face-to-face interaction
with consumers and prospects.
28
For example, the Qwest naming agree-
ment included a commitment by the Seahawks and affiliates to purchase a
minimum of $1.5 million in telecommunications services per year from
Qwest as well as a commitment to use commercially reasonable efforts to
cause other related entities to purchase Qwest services.
29
While the highest priority for naming sponsors is still increased
visibility and perceived stature, sponsors also seek other benefits included
in the package, such as tickets and travel. Part of the allure of a naming
rights agreement for a sponsor is the opportunity to gain other sponsorship
rights, also known as the 'Goodie List.¨ Nearly every deal includes a prime
location suite and tickets for the naming sponsor, the right to host a
specified number of meetings and other events at the facility during the
term of the agreement. A number of other perks not for sale to the general
public are also available, such as travel on the team plane to away games
complete with accommodations at the team hotel and dinner with team
officials. Another expected benefit is having the sponsor`s brand embedded
in the official stadium and on freeway signs leading to the stadium.
30
A. SUITE
A naming sponsor`s suite is generally subject to standard conditions set
forth in a separate suite lease agreement all suite holders are required to
sign. As a suite holder, the sponsor is responsible for entertainment costs
associated with food, beverage, and concierge services provided at the
request of the naming sponsor during games. Other rules governing the use
of the suite are typical of suite agreements and provide for the several
restrictions to the suite as is discussed below. Because naming rights are
often negotiated in advance of other activities, the suite holder agreement
may not be available for review or inclusion as an exhibit to the naming
agreement. However, counsel should require the seller to reduce the basic
requirements to writing and agree the terms and conditions of the naming
sponsor`s suite agreement will be no less favorable than those applied to
other suite holders.
28. See About Qwest Field, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS, http://www.seahawks.com/gameday/
qwest-field/index.html (last visited May 30, 2011); Kate Macmillan, NFL Stadiums. Whats In A
Name?, YAHOO! SPORTS (Sept. 20, 2008), http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=ys-forbesnfl
stadiums092008.
29. See Macmillan, supra note 28.
30. See id.
2010] NAMING AGREEMENTS 803
1. Furnishings, Decor, and Alterations
Suite holders are usually given a menu of options for furnishings,
equipment, and floor covering, but cabinetry and countertops are consistent
throughout the suites. The appointments are top of the line, such as
Cambria quartz countertops, stainless steel sinks and refrigerators, and elite
cabinetry. Some venue operators allow suite holders to make alterations to
the suite or modify the suite`s fixtures, furnishings, or equipment, but most
venues provide a menu of options for furniture and equipment from which
the suite holder may choose.
2. Use of the Suite
All suites have a food and beverage service available, and it is typically
implied the beverage service will include alcohol in the naming sponsor`s
suite. Recent developments, however, may make alcohol service less
common, especially if the suite is in a collegiate venue. If alcohol use is of
importance to the naming sponsor, counsel should insist the applicable
naming agreement or suite agreement specifies there will be no prohibition
of the use of alcohol in the suite during games and events. Counsel should
further insist the agreement include written provisions providing for a
discount in the price of the suite if the owners or operators of the venue
prohibit alcohol use in the suite.
Within a naming agreement, there are several possible ways to address
alcohol use in the suite. The prospective sponsor should insist on written
assurances the sponsor will be allowed to provide alcohol to its guests even
if the owner or operator of the venue bans alcohol in the facility. The
sponsor should also require the venue operator to agree in the naming
agreement not to prosecute the sponsor or any of the sponsor`s invitees for
bringing in alcohol or attempting to bring in alcohol in violation of any ban.
If the seller of the naming rights or suite is not willing to agree to the
provisions, the sponsor or prospective suite holder should not agree to the
deal.
A recent example of a controversial policy involves the University of
Minnesota and its new football stadium on campus. At the time the naming
sponsor, suite holders, club members and holders of loge boxes signed their
suite and luxury seating agreements, the impression was given alcohol
would be permitted in the suites, clubs, and other luxury seating areas.
However, before the inaugural season in the new stadium, the University of
Minnesota adopted a policy prohibiting the sale or use of alcohol anywhere
804 NORTH DAKOTA LAW REVIEW [VOL. 86:789
in the stadium.
31
Under the university policy, suite holders could not even
bring in their own alcohol for their guests.
The university`s ban on alcohol currently includes the DQ Clubroom,
which includes two massive bars, and the Indoor Club, which includes com-
plimentary food and beverage service and is the highest-priced seating
available in the facility. While alcohol is certainly not essential to enjoying
a football or baseball game, it is assumed in nearly every business and
political social setting that alcohol will be available. The unavailability of
alcohol in a suite virtually guarantees the host will have a difficult time
enticing clients and guests to stay for the duration of the event or accept a
future invitation.
32
The University of Minnesota adopted its no-alcohol policy in response
to the Minnesota Legislature passing a law prohibiting the university from
discriminating against ordinary ticket holders who purchase tickets in the
bowl seating areas. The law also requires the university to either allow
alcohol sales and use throughout the bowl seating areas, except in student
and family sections of the stadium, or prohibit all alcohol consumption.
33
The Legislature appeared to be sending a message that if Minnesotans were
responsible enough to be taxed for the new Gopher football stadium, the
same Minnesotans should be considered responsible enough to enjoy an
adult beverage in the stadium they are paying for through taxes. The
obvious point of the Legislature`s action was to allow the average sports
fan, whose taxes were helping pay for the stadium, to enjoy a beer in the
cheap seats if university administration and large donors could consume
alcohol in the exclusive suites and clubs.
During the 2010 session, the Minnesota Legislature relaxed the
restrictions and amended the statute to allow alcohol to be served in
premium seating as long as it was also available in one-third of the general
seating.
34
Despite the concession by the Legislature, the University of
Minnesota again refused to compromise, leaving suite holders and club
patrons without the option of serving alcoholic beverages to their guests.
35
31. Alex Ebert, No Booze for U Sports Fans, STAR TRIB., June 25, 2009, http://www.
startribune.com/local/minneapolis/49012236 html.
32. See David Moltz, Good Seats, Hard Sell, INSIDE HIGHER ED (Sept. 22, 2009),
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/09/22/luxury.
33. 2009 Minn. Laws 3-4.
34. MINN. STAT. § 340A.404(4a)(3) (2010).
35. The University`s decision, while controversial, was not universally criticized. The Star
Tribune published an editorial supporting the University and recommending the Minnesota
Legislature let the University operate the stadium as it sees fit. See Editorial, Let the U Operate
TCF Stadium, STAR TRIB , Apr. 23, 2010, http://www.startribune.com/opinion/editorials/
91944814 html.
2010] NAMING AGREEMENTS 805
3. Repair and Maintenance
Suite rules usually require suite holders to leave their suite in good
order after each use. The venue operator normally handles cleaning after
each event and maintains the suite in reasonable repair and good working
order. However, suite holders are responsible for any costs, repairs, or
maintenance required due to misuse or negligence by the suite holder or
guests.
4. Access
Most venues provide two sets of keys to the suite door, cabinets, and
refrigerator, and retain master keys for the suites. Typical suite agreements
reserve the right for the venue operator to enter the suite, to clean or
maintain cabinets and refrigerator, to deliver food and beverages, or to
check the condition of the suite. Suite holders are prohibited from changing
the locks or placing additional locks on doors, cabinets or refrigerators.
B. TICKETS
Most suites come with a prescribed minimum number of tickets for
each event. The capacity of suites is usually greater than the number of
tickets assigned to the suite, and suite holders are given the option to
purchase additional tickets up to the fire code capacity for a predetermined
price. Some venues provide suite holders with their supplemental suite
tickets in advance at no initial charge and bill the suite holder only if the
tickets are scanned at the gate.
C. PARKING PASSES
VIP parking is among the most coveted benefits of sports patrons. The
naming sponsor should expect a minimum of one parking pass to all home
games for every four suite tickets included in the arrangement. The sponsor
should also use the VIP opportunity to secure additional parking passes for
the other premium seating packages the sponsor purchased in conjunction
with the naming agreement.
D. CLUB MEMBERSHIPS
New sports venues have a variety of clubs, covering a broad variety of
price points. While smaller and older ballparks, arenas, and stadiums may
have two or three clubs, newer facilities like Citizens Bank Park and Target
Field have a number of exclusive clubs requiring large annual membership
fees, as well as open clubs and restaurants available to the general fan base.
806 NORTH DAKOTA LAW REVIEW [VOL. 86:789
A naming sponsor could potentially secure access to the clubs by including
a provision within a naming agreement.
E. CONCERTS AND OTHER PUBLIC EVENTS
Other types of events, such as concerts, may take place at the venue. If
the naming sponsor would want to attend other events, it should insist on
the right to purchase or decline to purchase event tickets to concerts, shows,
and other performances at a price per ticket that does not exceed the
average reserved seat ticket price for that event in the venue. The sponsor`s
right to purchase should include a number of tickets equal to the capacity of
the suite, but should not require the suite holder to purchase any minimum
number of tickets to any performance. In order to maintain the suite for the
naming sponsor, counsel should ensure the agreement does not allow the
venue to rent the naming sponsor`s suite to a third party if the suite holder
declines to purchase tickets to a particular concert or event.
F. PRIME SEAT PURCHASE PRIORITY
Another benefit is the naming sponsor`s potential opportunity to
purchase a specified number of prime location season tickets with the right
to select seats ahead of all others. However, the sponsor`s right to renew
season tickets will be subject to the ordinary season ticket fees applicable to
those prime locations. Opening a new venue typically involves a turf battle
between major donors or corporate sponsors and longtime season ticket
holders who have maintained prime location seats in the old facility without
paying seat license fees or preferred seating fees. The venue operator
decides how to rank each party`s seat location priority in the new venue, but
the naming sponsor essentially jumps to the head of the selection line for all
prime seats within the venue.
Some agreements include the price of a specified number of prime
seats into the base naming agreement, but others prefer to keep all but the
prime suite as a separate commitment. Naming agreements typically last
for twenty or more years, and the price of club memberships, loge boxes,
prime location seating and associated costs can easily add another twenty to
thirty percent to the sponsor`s annual commitment. Keeping clubs, loge
boxes, and prime bowl seating commitments separate allows the sponsor
the flexibility to cut back on expenses if economic conditions change.
The naming sponsor should also consider whether it would want to
reserve the right to assign all or a portion of its luxury seating rights to key
employees. The seller may be resistant to grant such assignment rights
because it may give up too much control over its ticket inventory, but the
2010] NAMING AGREEMENTS 807
seller may actually benefit because assignments of the sponsor`s luxury
seating to employees will typically include the retiring chairman, directors,
CEO, and other key executives who were instrumental in approving the
decision to enter the naming agreement with the seller. If the seller is a
university, the individuals who receive the assignment of luxury seating
rights are likely to continue to be loyal to the athletic programs and become
donors who support the academic mission of the university, as well,
providing the opportunity for the institution to benefit financially from the
assignment of the naming sponsor`s prime ticket rights to retiring execu-
tives.
When a company sponsors a collegiate facility, the sponsor will want
an opportunity to purchase a specified number of prime tickets to other
sporting events in other campus venues. Naming sponsors of professional
and collegiate facilities should receive the opportunity to purchase prime
tickets to concerts and other non-athletic events held in the facility.
G. VIP EVENTS AND RECEPTIONS
Passes to all pre-game VIP events that serve food and beverages may
also be available to the naming sponsor. The number of complementary
passes to each pre-game event typically equals the number of corresponding
game tickets provided with the naming sponsor`s suite. However, a sponsor
may wish to include a right to purchase a specified number of additional
invitations.
H. TRAVEL AND OTHER EXPERIENCES NOT FOR SALE TO THE
GENERAL PUBLIC
VIP trips along with major college football teams may also be an
available, and desirable, perk for a naming sponsor. The seller of the
naming rights may provide a trip for four individuals per season on the team
charter plane as part of the team`s official entourage for one away game,
complete with hotel, ground transportation, and food. The seller may also
provide tickets for four persons to one conference away football game per
year during the regular season. The specific game is usually negotiated
season-by-season and is subject to certain limitations with regard to the
availability of tickets and seats on the plane for a particular away game.
But the commitment to one game per season remains firm.
XI. SUCCESSES AND FAILURES OF NAMING SPONSORS
Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia is successful stadium branding from
the naming sponsor`s perspective and serves as an example of what a
808 NORTH DAKOTA LAW REVIEW [VOL. 86:789
naming sponsor`s counsel should strive to accomplish. Virtually every
depiction of Citizens Bank at the ballpark uses the exact same color
scheme, stylized lettering, trademarks and images.
36
The consistency is
apparent in the largest stadium name sign, the entry gates, the first aid
stations, the children`s game area, and even the garbage cans. With excep-
tion to the cup holders, everything utilizes the distinctive green and white
colors found at every Citizen`s Bank branch and ATM.
The large, illuminated stadium name is situated beneath the main
scoreboard just above the open concourse in left field upper deck, a location
that ensures every home run hit to left field will have the Citizens Bank
Park sign in the background, and guarantees every associated highlight on
national and local television includes a subtle advertisement for the bank.
A distinctive green glow from the signs is also apparent throughout the city
as Citizens Bank`s ATMs are branded with the same shade of green as fans
see everywhere at the ballpark. Citizens Bank`s branding team managed to
align every sign, message, and touch point at the ballpark not only with the
other ballpark components, but with the bank`s branding of branches, loan
production offices, ATMs, and advertising outside of Citizens Bank Park.
Bill Schley and Carl Nichols, Jr. refer to such consistency as TCA or
Total Consistent Alignment.
37
In their book, Why Johnny Cant Brand,
Schley and Nichols use the analogy of a big brother poking his little brother
lightly over and over in the same exact spot in the exact same way to
explain how consistent branding messages build up over time until they
prompt a reaction from the target.
38
For Citizens Bank and other naming
sponsors who wish to target consumers to switch to the sponsor`s brand or
remain loyal to its brand, the key is consistency at every touch point.
Touch points are opportunities of interaction with a fan, and taking
advantage of touch points includes maintaining the consistent branding at
every sign, entrance, nametag, garbage can, video or print advertisement,
and depiction of the sponsor`s brand on anything the fan uses or sees at the
sports venue, at the sponsor`s place of business, or anywhere the sponsor
conducts any advertising or business activity.
Schley and Nichols assert such relentless consistency and repetition
can make the sponsor`s brand more tangible to consumers.
39
Counsel to the
naming sponsor should endeavor to educate and advise the client to follow
36. The Iollowing paragraphs represent the Author`s observations Irom visiting the venue
and touring the city of Philadelphia.
37. BILL SCHLEY & CARL NICHOLS, JR., WHY JOHNNY CAN`T BRAND REDISCOVERING THE
LOST ART OF THE BIG IDEA 39 (2005).
38. Id.
39. See id. at 131-32.
2010] NAMING AGREEMENTS 809
the TCA formula like Citizens Bank did, and encourage the client to align
all of its branding touch points within the stadium with the sponsor`s
branding of its products and services away from the stadium. In order to be
entirely successful, though, counsel must understand consumer contact
concepts fully, negotiate the right for the naming sponsor to employ such
strategies in the sponsor`s stadium branding, draft contract language clearly
spelling out the client`s branding rights at the stadium, and establish an
implementation plan the client can follow to make the most of the opport-
unities the naming rights provide.
On the other hand, PNC Park in Pittsburgh is an example of what can
happen if the client does not have a coordinated naming rights strategy and
marketing plan. PNC`s branding within the venue, while still a fan-friendly
ballpark, is an extension of the bank`s overall branding dysfunction in the
marketplace. The PNC Park name appears atop the main scoreboard
accompanied by a PNC horizontal corporate logo, but the PNC adver-
tisement on the body of the scoreboard utilizes different colors, different
stylized lettering, and a PNC pinwheel-shaped corporate logo.
40
As
recently as 2006, the bank employed no less than three other variations of
the stylized PNC word mark throughout the ballpark and away from the
ballpark.
Schley and Nichols identified such inconsistency and lack of branding
focus as one of the twelve most common mistakes made by amateurs:
'Chopping down your trees before they grow . . . changing your message
too often.¨
41
Branding messages include not only written text, audio, and
video, but also stylized word marks and logos. Given PNC`s lack of bran-
ding consistency within the ballpark, it is questionable whether the bank is
reaching its target consumers, let alone convincing them to switch to or
remain loyal to the bank.
PNC is not alone among naming sponsors exhibiting symptoms of
dysfunctional marketing as manifested in unfocused, inconsistent, and
ineffective stadium branding. Nor is PNC alone when it comes to
thoughtless location of the stadium name. With regard to large displays of
the stadium name, bigger is not necessarily better. Like real estate
generally, the placement of the stadium name and logo within the facility
must consider 'location, location, location.¨
Other naming sponsors have fallen victim to placement of the stadium
name high atop the scoreboard like PNC and missed the opportunity to have
40. See Scoreboard at PNC Park, ABOUT COM, http://pittsburgh.about.com/od/pictures/ig/
pnc_park/scoreboard htm (last visited June 8, 2011).
41. See SCHLEY & NICHOLS, supra note 38, at 47-48, 131-32.
810 NORTH DAKOTA LAW REVIEW [VOL. 86:789
their corporate identity appear prominently and frequently in the
background during live television and replays of game action. At AT&T
Park, the stadium name appears high above the new high definition video
board and stadium clock, while Toyota, Safeway, and Budweiser occupy
the prime location in video and still photos of the scoreboard and center
field action.
42
Chase Field, U.S. Cellular Park, and Tropicana Field display
the stadium name above even the highest level, which assures their naming
sponsors will rarely have their respective corporate names appear as part of
game action video or photos.
43
Although it is always beneficial to the
naming sponsor to have consumers see an illuminated stadium name from
the freeway or the air, television exposure provides the most potential for
worldwide exposure. Therefore, it is essential for the client`s name to
appear in the location most likely to be seen on live television and video
replays because the sponsor`s customers and potential customers are not
only from the local market, but from the market represented by the visiting
team. Counsel must be aware of the client`s marketing strategy and demo-
graphics of customers or prospective customers the client hopes to
influence by investing in naming rights. Counsel`s strategy in negotiating
and drafting a naming agreement must take into consideration the client`s
objectives regarding elevating brand awareness and being aligned with the
sports team that is the primary tenant in the venue to be named.
XII. CONCLUSION
Some clients who decide to invest in naming rights think too much
about tangible benefits such as free tickets or specific sign locations instead
of intangible benefits of acquiring naming rights such as the elevation in
corporate stature that will result from disciplined adherence to a sound
strategic marketing plan augmented by the sponsor`s investment in naming
rights. Once naming rights become more tangible, counsel can discuss
early on marketing strategy with the client in order to be more effective
advocate for your client throughout the process of acquiring and exploiting
naming rights. Encouraging the client to develop a consistent marketing
strategy as part of the stadium branding initiative is a means to ensure the
stadium touch points are relentlessly consistent within the venue and with
42. See AT&T Park Scoreboard, IMAGEKIND, http://www.imagekind.com/AT&T-Park-
Scoreboard-art?IMID=766103a3-5d55-470e-ba94-0f2d9874d119 (last visited July 9, 2011); Chris
Shuttlesworth, AT&T Park Gets High-Def Upgrade, MLB COM (Mar. 27, 2007), http://houston.
astros mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20070328&content_id=1862944&vkey=spt2007news&fext
=.jsp&c_id=sf.
43. See MLB Stadiums That Need New or Updated Scoreboards, BASEBALL FEVER BLOG
(Aug. 18, 2008, 2:10 PM), http://www.baseball-fever.com/showthread.php?82271-MLB-
Stadiums-That-Need-New-Or-Updated-Scoreboards.
2010] NAMING AGREEMENTS 811
the client`s branding of its products and services away from the stadium.
Although branding is important, counsel must also be effective in
negotiating and drafting the naming rights agreement and must address
what happens after the agreement is finalized. How the naming sponsor
utilizes the opportunities created by new relationships and how the sponsor
displays itself will determine whether the investment in naming rights was
worthwhile.
812 NORTH DAKOTA LAW REVIEW [VOL. 86:789
APPENDIX A

790

NORTH DAKOTA LAW REVIEW

[VOL. 86:789

H. TRAVEL AND OTHER EXPERIENCES NOT FOR SALE TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC ................................................................. 807 XI. XII. SUCCESSES AND FAILURES OF NAMING SPONSORS .... 807 CONCLUSION ........................................................................... 810

APPENDIX A ........................................................................................ 812

I.

INTRODUCTION

Naming rights deals involving high profile sports venues are big league marketing plays involving complex negotiations culminating in detailed, lengthy contracts and multimillion-­dollar investments. When a venue owner trying to sell naming rights for a ballpark, stadium, or arena approaches a client, the responsibility of the client s counsel includes dis-­ cussing marketing strategy with the client and learning as much as possible about the client s target customer demographics and how the client makes marketing decisions. If the client markets goods and services to consumers, it may benefit from the name recognition and exposure that a stadium naming deal can provide. If the client is accustomed to investing only in direct mail, newspaper, and radio advertising that includes some means of measuring response rates, it may not be interested in naming rights;; however, that alone is not a compelling reason to reject a naming rights proposal. Many naming companies have acquired naming rights in con-­ junction with new or expanded business relationships with the team or stadium owner. If the client or the client s counsel can identify potential new business opportunities that result directly from a naming rights agreement, such opportunities may also be a means of measuring the client s return on its marketing investment in naming rights. Additionally, if the client s marketing plan includes a significant investment in so-­called institutional advertising, which places emphasis on the image of the company instead of its products and services, it may find naming a sports venue is a good way to enhance its image and to receive national television, radio, and print media exposure. Terms of naming rights agreements generally range from fifteen to twenty-­five years. However, some terms have been as short as five years and as long as for the life of the facility. Examples include Newman Outdoor Advertising acquiring perpetual naming rights to Newman

2010] NAMING AGREEMENTS 791 Outdoor Field in Fargo. In order to develop the specifications and properly represent the best interests of the client. See generally Schaumburg Flyers. the agreement can more precisely define the size and location of signage and other design features that will display the naming sponsor s corporate name or logo. 2011) (providing information about the field).. DAILY J. 2. but the attorney is responsible for drafting a document that is flexible enough to cover all of the eventual design possibilities. Illinois.gobison. and size of signage identifying the naming sponsor. 2004. http://www flyersbaseball.aspx (last visited June 6. However. counsel drafting an agreement must carefully consider the inclusion of specific objective standards and technical specifications regarding the location. http://fmredhawks.;2 Quest Communications. Angelo Bruscas. if the naming agree-­ ment is drafted while the stadium project is still in the planning stages.COM. 2006). There may not even be blueprints or renderings available.php. so counsel for a naming sponsor must consider other examples of state-­of-­the-­art ballparks and develop contract language taking into account all possibilities. acquiring a ten-­year deal to name Alexian Field in Schaumburg.; see also Stadium Photos.seattlepi. SCHAUMBURG FLYERS. Although possibly difficult with no stadium in existence.nba. See History.com/stadium/ photos/ (last visited June 6. If a structure is already designed or built. Eric Peterson. 2011) (providing general infor-­ mation about the Flyers). 19.718 million per year. with an option to extend two more years for an additional $1. See Newman Outdoor Field. SEATTLE POST-­INTELLIGENCER. 3. consultation and assist-­ ance of experts in illumination. 4.com/ViewArticle.COM (Dec. agreeing to a fifteen-­year naming rights deal to Quest Field in Seattle. Washington. at 4. 2011). Once the parties are able to conceptually envision the stadium or if the 1. Florida.com/about-­the-­flyers/ history. Inc.com/ default/article/Qwest-­Field-­approved-­1147964. June 25. http://www flyersbaseball. In February of 2000. and logo design may be necessary. .4 II. it is not unusual for parties to only have a rough idea about the size and type of stadium to be constructed. FMREDHAWKS. See The Arena in Orlando To Become Amway Arena. at D2. North Dakota. 2011) (displaying pictures of Newman Outdoor Field). THE CONCEPTUAL STADIUM Naming agreements include a lengthy set of definitions. 7.com/magic/news/The_arena_in_Orlando_To_Become-­198984-­800 html. .com/splash.COM. Inc. 2005. Under such circumstances. TD Waterhouse agreed to pay $7. which will be inside and outside of the venue.COM.dbml? DB_OEM_ID=2400&ATCLID=69830 (last visited June 6. Flyers Field Will Keep Name For 9 Years. available at http://www. NBA. signage. type.;3 and Amway obtaining a five-­year deal to name Amway Arena in Orlando. http:// www.89 million over five years for naming rights to the Orlando arena.aspx (last visited June 6. FLYERSBASEBALL. Apr. http://www. GOBISON.;1 Alexian Brothers Health Systems. the agreement may be im-­ precise about potential stadium construction.

86:789 stadium is already in existence counsel representing a naming sponsor must consider how its name will appear in the facility.com/mlb/story/_/id/ 7060886/minnesota-­timberwolves-­take-­ad-­seen-­target-­field (last visted Oct. the home court of the Minnesota Timberwolves. J. http://espn. http://www. and Target s name was initially the only corporate name on the building. the sponsor took steps to reclaim some of the exterior naming real estate by including a condition that the high profile signage location visible from Target Field will be controlled by Target and the Sanford Health sign occupying that space will be replaced. a client does not want its name faded into the background like the naming sponsor for Target Center.. This prominence must.792 NORTH DAKOTA LAW REVIEW [VOL.6 Target was a pioneer in naming rights. Target Center opened in 1990. III. Toyota. and advertising. ESPN.com/twincities/print-­edition/2011/05/06/Target-­ centers-­naming-­rights-­are-­up-­for html. The name Target Center was artfully and tastefully integrated into the architectural design. 5. be present in the embodiment of the stadium structure and each and every game or event occurring at the facility. which includes all forms of digital and fixed signage appearing in or on the facility. . Bank. when Target Corporation agreed to extend the naming agreement with the Timberwolves. exclusivity. PAUL BUS. but it was not alone when it came to having its brand upstaged in the very facility they paid millions to name. though. Over subsequent years. large new signs were erected on the exterior wall for the benefit of a number of other sponsors including Miller Genuine Draft. John Vomhof. the identity of the naming sponsor has been almost entirely eclipsed by branding promoting other sponsors. but Target was neither dominant nor prominent among the corporate sponsors on the building s exterior.5 In September. Jr. For example. Miller Lite. DOMINANCE AND PROMINENCE An attorney representing a naming sponsor must ensure the client has relative prominence and dominance among other corporate sponsors and donors having a presence in the stadium. On the prime corner of the Target Center building in downtown Minneapolis. Many of the early naming rights deals did not contemplate the 5.S. MINNEAPOLIS/ST.go. The assurance of such results requires careful attention to contractual provisions dealing with sponsors acquiring naming rights for the different components of the stadium. Looking to the experiences of other naming sponsors can help prevent problems that may occur. U. .. Target was the naming sponsor of the Timberwolves arena. 6.COM. 2011. and NBA City Restaurant. 2011). 2011. May 6. . Pepsi. to the greatest extent practicable.bizjournals.

http://www. In order to ensure only the official name and logo are used. STADIUM NAME The official name. and no other name.phototour. .minneapolis mn.7 While Target Center was the worst case scenario for a naming rights deal. the Xcel Center naming deal came ten years after the Target naming deal and after the manifestation of the signage colossus at Target Center. including provisions dealing with the stadium name. prominence. This is precisely what the naming sponsor is purchasing repetitive use of the sponsor s chosen stadium name. 2011) (displaying photographs showing how the Target name was dominated by other advertisers). nearby Target Field the new home of the Minnesota Twins serves as an example of the proper balance of dominance. and marketing. The agreement should also include a provision requiring the other party or parties to refer to the official stadium name in all written and official oral references to the facility or events schedule to take place at the facility. 2011) (displaying photographs of Wells Fargo and Xcel Energy side-­by-­side with equal prominence above the digital marquee at the intersection of at Kellogg Boulevard and West Seventh Street in downtown St.2010] NAMING AGREEMENTS 793 building owner allowing other sponsors to undermine the naming sponsor s visibility. http://www.us/ bob_firth/bob_firth-­st_paul/4788 (last visited June 6. STADIUM TRAVEL GUIDE. truncation.htm (last visited June 8. an attorney should take care to envision how future events and marketing developments may affect the naming sponsor s dominance and prominence so as not to repeat the major failures of exclusivity and prominence at Target Center and Xcel Energy Center. See Xcel Energy Center #4788. IV. signage. category exclusivity.stadiumtravelguide. Even Xcel Energy s dominance was marginalized by a large Wells Fargo sign on the prime corner of the Xcel Energy Center in St. Hyphenation. though. Minnesota).8 Counsel should incorporate objective dominance and prominence standards into all of the critical sections of the agreement. See Minneapolis.com/ basketball/minneapolis. and good taste in displaying the logo and name of a naming sponsor. the agreement between a naming sponsor and facility owner should require the team and facility operator to include the official stadium name in all relevant agreements entered into after the effective date of the naming agreement. Surprising. Paul. 8. Paul.COM. and the official stadium logo should be used in all written and official oral references to the facility. the agreement should require the team and venue operator to use commercially reasonable 7. or other dilution of the official name represents a diminution in the value of the intellectual property acquired by the naming sponsor. When negoti-­ ating and drafting a naming rights agreement. In addition. CGSTOCK.

BALLPARKREVIEWS. http://ir. stadium names may change as a result of changing branding strategies. including costs for third party logo designer services specific to the development of the artwork and a style manual for the approved forms of 9. Some companies may fail. Inc. and other items. or delayed. 2011) (describing the corporate profile of CenturyLink. causing stadium names to change such as when Enron s demise changed the Houston Astros ballpark name to Minute Maid Park.com/ houston/houston htm# (last visited June 7. Typical naming agreements allow for a new stadium name subject to the reasonable prior written approval of the team or venue operator. On April 1. 2011). 86:789 efforts to persuade the applicable state and local transportation agencies to use the official stadium name or logo in all road and other directional signs leading to the facility. or if it elects to change the current name of the company for other strategic business reasons. on the other hand.10 The naming agreement should allow the naming sponsor to change the stadium name if the company is involved in a sale or merger. conditioned. See generally CENTURYLINK. except signage associated with a name change. Counsel for a naming sponsor should include language providing that such consent to change may not be unreasonably withheld. and maintenance of all signage referenced in the agreement. installation.794 NORTH DAKOTA LAW REVIEW [VOL. The naming sponsor. Provisions regarding name change should also require the team and venue operator to cooperate in promoting the new stadium name.). formerly known as Bank One Ballpark. Stadium name changes are not uncommon during the course of the fifteen-­ to twenty-­five-­year terms of naming agreements. The new company will use the CenturyLink brand but will continue to use the Qwest brand in certain markets during a transition period. is usually responsible for paying all costs associated with changing the stadium name including signage. See Minute Maid Park.centurylink.COM.ballparkreviews. paper products.COM. Inc.zhtml?c=112635& p=irol-­homeprofile (last visited June 7. Qwest Communications completed a merger with CenturyLink. The team or venue operator is generally responsible for costs of initial production. The naming sponsor often takes responsibility for costs associated with developing stadium logos and any stylized form of the stadium name.com/phoenix. formerly known as SBC Park and PacBell Park. 2011. Names change as a result of companies mergering. Finally. the agreement should obligate the team and facility operator to make commercially reasonable efforts to encourage local broadcast and print media to refer to the facility by its official name. websites. http://www. . merchandise inventory. 10. and the San Francisco Giants playing in AT&T Park. such as the Arizona Diamondbacks now playing in Chase Field. cup holders. ad-­ vertising.9 Additionally.

http://www. For example. Similarly. 2008). CELL PHONE DIGEST (Mar. on promotional materials. if Integra Telecom13 booked a private meeting or event at Qwest Field.cellphonedigest net/news/2008/03/tmobile_sponsors_50th_grammy_ c. For purposes of the naming agreement. Any refusal to provide the naming sponsor with absolute category exclusivity anywhere on the ballpark or stadium site is a deal-­breaker. V. 13. http://www. The category exclusivity is vital to a naming sponsor client who is making a large investment in naming rights. tickets. Integra Telecom provides communications services in eight states with markets served by Qwest.php. The effect of exclusivity provisions is the prohibition of the team or venue operator from renewing or executing new agreements that would allow the mark of any competitor of the naming sponsor to be incorporated 11. the Seattle Seahawks could allow Integra Telecom s name and logo during and leading up to the meeting or event. INTEGRA TELECOM. and banners anywhere in the stadium. The agreement may also have contractual obligations to include the name of the tour or even s company as part of the event. A competitor would include any company the naming sponsor identifies as one providing competing goods or services or operating in the same industrial sector as the naming sponsor. See T-­Mobile Sponsors 50th GRAMMY Celebration Concert Tour. Counsel may agree to carve out exceptions11 that would allow temporary signage in connection with certain events or private events sponsored by competing companies. on promotional materials.integratelecom. digital display boards. or complexes around the country and that may or may not be sponsored by a company that is a direct competitor of the naming sponsor. 2011). and banners at stadium. arenas. 12. CATEGORY EXCLUSIVITY Exclusivity provisions within a naming agreement prohibit a team and venue operator from entering into or renewing any corporate sponsorship for the facility with any competitor of the naming sponsor. tickets. temporary signage. if the GRAMMY Tour sponsored by T-­Mobile12 included a concert at Qwest Field.php (last visited May 30. the event would involve a direct communications competitor of Qwest. 12. This responsibility allows the naming sponsor to have greater influence over the design of the stadium logo and allows for integration of the stadium mark into the company s overall logo and marketing strategy. an exception may include any event other than a home game taking place at the facility that is one of a series of related events scheduled to take place in a number of cities and in numerous stadiums.2010] NAMING AGREEMENTS 795 the stadium name and marks. digital display boards. temporary signage. . See Company Milestones. but the event may fall under an exception in the stadium naming agreement that would permit the concert promoters to display T-­Mobile s name and logo during and leading up to the concert.com/about/ company_milestones.

during. It is also crucial for a naming sponsor s counsel to ensure the agreement requires the team or venue operator to include the official . the stadium name. images. VI. animation. 86:789 into or displayed on any fixture. and after each game with display time for the naming sponsor s advertising specified in the agreement. the agreement should require that these materials identify the facility by its official stadium name and should incorporate the stadium name into depictions of fixed and digital signage on the exterior and interior of the facility. it should include a provision requiring the team or venue operator to erect prominent on-­site signage during construction identifying the site of the future location of the facility using the official stadium name. including scoreboards and other components of the facility. SIGNAGE If the naming agreement is for a new facility not yet constructed or in the process of being built. or logos be displayed on all digital scoreboard and ribbon light-­emitting diode (LED) boards before. photos. If the naming agreement is executed before there are blue-­ prints and other technical and promotional materials showing the design. as well. The naming sponsor s web advertising and embedded video containing the sponsor s current television or video advertisements should also be included on the stadium web page. While typical naming agreements do not re-­ quire the team or venue operator to terminate any existing agreement with a corporate sponsor. counsel for a naming sponsor should negotiate and draft contract provisions requiring the client s name. and there should be specific stadium web pages providing information. Another step for a naming sponsor s counsel is to negotiate and draft provisions requiring the team or venue operator to allow the stadium name or logo to be prominently displayed in and on all design materials. A naming sponsor client should also receive one or more full-­page color advertisements in each game and event program with the sponsor s choice of location. However. The stadium name or logo should be prominently displayed at the top of any marquee signs or signs attached to the exterior of the facility. video or other depictions that are developed for the facility after the naming agreement is executed. renderings. illustrations. or promotional merchandise at the stadium.796 NORTH DAKOTA LAW REVIEW [VOL. they generally prohibit expanding existing agreements to permit advertising or sponsorships that conflict with the exclusivity restrictions of the naming agreement. The stadium name or naming sponsor s advertisements should appear on the primary websites of the team and the stadium. sign. blueprints. digital display board. site plans. and directions to the facility. including those incorporating digital display boards.

gophersports. the best location for the sponsor s brand or ballpark name is prominently above the first level of seating in left field and right field to ensure that the sponsor will benefit from live and video replays of the majority of home runs hit in the ballpark. MINN. Contract specifications should include objective specifications re-­ quiring the stadium name or logo be visible and readable from the all major intersections abutting the facility and from the main stadium parking lots. the ideal location for the stadium name or naming sponsor s brand is above and between the goal posts behind each end zone so that each field goal or extra point attempt results in advertising impressions for the benefit of the naming sponsor. e. the illumination standards with regard to the stadium name and logo should have equal or greater intensity than the illumination of the team name. the agreement should establish standards regar-­ ding the relative size.. or otherwise interfering with the visibility of the naming sponsor s brand. it will be virtually invisible in still photos and video of night games. or other mark displayed on the exterior of the facility and on signage inside the facility. the stadium name should be at least twenty percent larger than the team name or logos.14 In football stadiums. frequency. In order to prevent advertising thwarting. It is common during playoffs for television networks to digitally replace the backstop signage behind home place with advertising promoting network sponsors. logos. See.. logo. or marks. shading. replacing.2010] NAMING AGREEMENTS 797 stadium name or logo in all printed and video promotional or press materials relating to the stadium or home games. Any signs prepared for archways and entry gates should include the official stadium name or logo either in or adjacent to the name of the respective arch or entry. . Second. and brightness of the team name. First. slogans and other marks compared to the size of the stadium name or logo. the naming agreement should prohibit digital blocking. U. 15. the stadium name should be displayed at least once in relative proximity to each depiction of the team name. http://stadium. logo.g. In addition. or the stadium logo with that of any other brand or advertising by 14. another important location for the naming sponsor s brand is behind home plate clearly in view of the centerfield camera as it focuses on the hitter during an at bat as well as in the left center and right center field gaps in order to augment the naming sponsor s in-­stadium and television marketing. 2008) (displaying several photographs of the University of Minnesota football stadium showing the stadium logo is invisible in contrast to the bright LED display of the scoreboard at night). In baseball parks. If there is inadequate illumination of the stadium name or logo. Finally. However.com/multi_photo_ gallery html (last modified Aug. the stadium name. TCF Bank Stadium.

meaning a large portion in the center of the big screen might be used to display live game video. and postgame. A better way to draft an agreement to ensure a client receives its expected benefit is to identify the naming sponsor s twenty percent share of the total advertising time as being twenty percent of the total commercial digital inventory.15 When negotiating and drafting the naming agreement. or other producers or broadcasters of video originating in the stadium. The large digital board has four commercial segments on each side of the main video area with each segment approximately twenty feet wide and ten feet tall. If a team or venue operator interprets the allocation provision to mean the naming sponsor s messages in one of the segments during twenty percent of the game satisfies the team s obligation under the agreement. totaling 1600 square feet (sq. It is not unusual for a team or venue operator to segment the digital display space on score-­ boards. cheers. of advertising during twenty percent of the game..; i.e. DIGITAL DISPLAY BOARDS The practical application of exclusivity provisions to the real world becomes clear when considering the digital display boards that comprise the large scoreboards and the ribbon of digital LED panels linked end-­to-­end along the fascia between the various levels of the stadium. announcements. commercial ads at one time. while smaller portions on the periphery display between four and eight static. VII.798 NORTH DAKOTA LAW REVIEW [VOL. . instant replays. community service announcements. 86:789 television stations. networks. Advertising time as it relates to digital display boards refers to the time during which paid advertisements appear. ft. A team and venue operator may not calculate the advertising time the same way as a naming sponsor client calculates its pro rata share of advertising on the digital scoreboards and ribbon boards.) of commercial digital advertising at any given time. pregame. The effect of such an agreement would 15. counsel for the naming sponsor needs to have carefully drafted these specifications to protect the client. focus on the elements and details of the formula that will be used to calculate the sponsor s share of total advertising time is necessary to ensure optimal advertisement. Consider an example wherein a naming sponsor is entitled to twenty percent of the total advertising time on the scoreboard. ft. and other non-­commercial material. and does not include time allocated to team cheers. but rotating. Typical naming agreements include a specified percentage of the total advertising time on all digital display boards. 1600 sq. and commercial video advertising.

and web photos of game action. . Phoenix Design Works. print media. 17. the team.g. the logo and stylized stadium name will be frequently displayed in tele-­ vision broadcasts. game breaks. and postgame.17 The investment in designing a first-­class stadium logo and stylized stadium name is a relatively small investment compared to a naming sponsor s cost of naming rights. advertisement displayed for fifteen minutes per hour. counsel should guide the client towards having a reputable design firm create the finest quality logo and stylized stadium name for the facility. e. if signs are properly positioned.THE STADIUM LOGO Most new professional stadiums and ballparks with naming sponsors have developed a stadium logo. could be used interchangeably with the stadium name by the naming sponsor.com/results/stadia Client Lists & Services. subject to approval of the team or venue operator. ft. ZEBRADOG. Table A illustrates the total commercial digital inventory allocation on a segmented digital scoreboard. at least one advertisement for the naming sponsor would be displayed at all times. http://www. Agreements usually permit a naming sponsor to develop a stadium logo that. which equates to sixty-­five minutes of coverage per hour and accounts for approximately twenty percent of the total advertising inventory available for sponsors and advertisers.. See. are serious business and the best designers incorporate a number of design elements and marks with significance to the naming sponsor. http://www. Agreeing to pay for the cost of designing the stadium logo allows the naming sponsor to have greater influence over the ultimate design of the logo and ensures the logo uses fonts and design elements consistent with the sponsor s corporate marks. the team. advertisement displayed for thirty minutes per hour. game.zebradog. like other corporate logos. ft.phoenixdesignwords. Athletic Facility Design. the naming sponsor would have two 200 sq.com/services (last visited e and portfolio). Thus. However. ft. ft. The design firm can then develop a design theme and strategy to integrate signage and other art into 16. or venue operator when referring to the facility. and another 200 sq.16 VIII.2010] NAMING AGREEMENTS 799 be roughly equivalent to one 400 sq. which covers many types of advertising media. See infra Appendix A. adver-­ tisements running simultaneously. advertisement displayed for twenty minutes per hour during the pregame. Consequentially. one 200 sq. and for approximately five minutes out of every hour. Stadium logos. and the facility.

2007). guerrilla marketers frequently produce inferior apparel and other merchandise that play off the legitimate artwork of sports teams. nicknames. Some guerrilla marketers even utilize counterfeiting as a tactic. http://www. 2011). Counsel for a naming sponsor is unlikely to be concerned about loss of revenue from unauthorized product. See. 19. See generally JAY CONRAD LEVINSON. and other intellectual property created and made valuable by sports teams.com/ hall_of_fame/visit_the_hall_of_fame/ (last visited May 30.19 Since Levinson first published his book in 1984. GUERRILLA MARKETING Guerrilla marketing is a strategy introduced by Jay Conrad Levinson as a low budget.COM. .18 IX. counsel needs to include provisions regar-­ ding an agreed-­upon stadium nickname that will be adopted by the parties and marketed to ensure popular acceptance.21 Counsel must encourage the sponsor.. but there is a plethora of more subtle and borderline legal methods employed by others. UWBADGERS. Counsel must understand these social dynamics and educate the client and the team or venue operator of the virtual certainty the stadium will be given a nickname. venue operator. and venue operator. 21.800 NORTH DAKOTA LAW REVIEW [VOL. 20. Sales of unauthorized product take revenue away from authorized vendors and the owners of the intellectual property. goodwill. Under these circumstances. 86:789 all aspects of the stadium in a way consistent with the naming sponsor s branding efforts throughout the venue or campus. Facilities. LAMBEAU FIELD. serving the best interests of the sponsor. e.com/facilities/ (last visited May 30.g. and team tenant to collaborate and take necessary preliminary measures to create licensed apparel and merchandise in order to 18.; Visit the Hall of Fame. The logo designer is a great resource to develop a suitable stadium nickname and to design artwork for apparel and merchandise that is compatible with the stadium logo. but should be very concerned about how guerrilla marketers might portray the sponsor or the stadium.20 guerrilla marketing strategies have evolved to include ambush marketing conducted by non-­sponsors who exploit the marks. http://www. take-­no-­prisoners method for small businesses to compete with larger ones. event promoters. team. and entertainment and sports venues. See generally JAY CONRAD LEVINSON. Including such a provision also allows the parties to eliminate the possibility of unfavorable nicknames and ensures the stadium nickname will be tasteful. GUERRILLA MARKETING: EASY AND INEXPENSIVE STRATEGIES FOR MAKING BIG PROFITS FROM YOUR SMALL BUSINESS (4th ed. 2011). For example. and sometimes unfavorable. GUERRILLA MARKETING: SECRETS FOR MAKING BIG PROFITS FROM YOUR SMALL BUSINESS (1984).uwbadgers. images. artists.lambeaufield. Collegiate and professional sports facilities typically are tagged with hip.

11.thedailygopher. 23. 26. See What Should We Call TCF Bank Stadium?.ballparksofbaseball.26 Undoubtedly.; Bank.22 While the items add little to no value to the naming sponsors Progressive. For instances. 2010.com/sports/gophers/104376223 html?elr= KArksi8cyaiUjc8LDyiUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aULPQL7PQLanchO7DiUr. the nickname artwork should also include the official stadium name or logo although the official name should be less conspicuous than the nickname. Stadium Name Changes T-­Shirts & Tees. http://www.COM. Blue Line Club Luncheon at The Bank on Friday.startribune. In order to do so.com/+ stadium-­name-­changes+t-­shirts (last visited May 30.com/sports/gophers/blogs/111530599. 2011). http://chicago. Nicknames can come from many different types of businesses.S. their respective marketing people collaborated to create licensed apparel and merchandise that ultimately helped drive popular opinion toward the preferred nickname.;. 7. providing the best possible outcome for the naming sponsor and the university.24 or Citigroup. http://www. and New York Mets ( I M CALLING IT SHEA ).com/cws/ ballpark/index.jsp (last updated Feb.cafepress. Chicago White Sox ( I STILL CALL IT COMISKEY ).. BALLPARKSOFBASEBALL. 8. Café Press sells T-­shirts objecting to new stadium names for the Cleveland Indians ( I STILL CALL IT THE JAKE ).. Cellular Field.com/nym/ballpark/citifield_ overview. Citi Field. http://www. or the 22. 27.jsp (last updated Feb. Progressive Field.S. OTHER BENEFITS AND THE GOODIE LIST Naming sponsors have become savvier and are not content with merely seeing their name on a stadium. the university and TCF wanted to avoid having the stadium inappropriately nicknamed. The Bank. the University of Minnesota football venue in Minneapolis.whitesox mlb.23 U. 24.25 respectively at least they are not offensive or overtly derogatory. CAFE PRESS. Dec. 2011). 2009. CHICAGO WHITE SOX.html.2010] NAMING AGREEMENTS 801 drive popular opinion toward the preferred nickname. NEW YORK METS. Another example is TCF Bank Stadium. 2011). Oct. However. STAR TRIB. http://www. TCF even distributed Taking it to the Bank T-­shirts to students who opened new accounts. 2010. 9:47 PM). For many naming sponsors. THE DAILY GOPHER (May 18. See Roman Augustoviz. 11. STAR TRIB. U. . Cellular. 25.com/2009/5/18/879543/what-­should-­we-­call-­tcf-­bank (suggesting -­alcohol rule at the stadium). Acceptance of The Bank reached a tipping point nearly a year before the new venue opened in 2009. 2011).com/ al/ProgressiveField htm (last visited May 30. http://www.startribune. http://newyork mets mlb. the primary benefit to entering into a naming rights agreement is the opportunity to extend the term of an ongoing business relationship with the team or venue owner that is not specifically associated with the stadium itself.27 X.

seahawks. Other rules governing the use of the suite are typical of suite agreements and provide for the several restrictions to the suite as is discussed below. http://sports.com/nfl/news?slug=ys-­forbesnfl stadiums092008. 86:789 chance to secure a new business opportunity that will ensure new revenue for the naming sponsor. 30.com/gameday/ qwest-­field/index. Nearly every deal includes a prime location suite and tickets for the naming sponsor. sponsors also seek other benefits included in the package. See About Qwest Field.; Kate Macmillan. A number of other perks not for sale to the general public are also available. YAHOO! SPORTS (Sept. the right to host a specified number of meetings and other events at the facility during the term of the agreement. Because naming rights are often negotiated in advance of other activities.yahoo. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS. the suite holder agreement may not be available for review or inclusion as an exhibit to the naming agreement. counsel should require the seller to reduce the basic requirements to writing and agree the terms and conditions of the naming sponsor s suite agreement will be no less favorable than those applied to other suite holders. 2011). . 2008).5 million in telecommunications services per year from Qwest as well as a commitment to use commercially reasonable efforts to cause other related entities to purchase Qwest services. such as tickets and travel.29 While the highest priority for naming sponsors is still increased visibility and perceived stature.28 For example. See Macmillan. supra note 28.html (last visited May 30. Another expected benefit is having the sponsor s brand embedded in the official stadium and on freeway signs leading to the stadium. Name?. See id. such as travel on the team plane to away games complete with accommodations at the team hotel and dinner with team officials.30 A. SUITE A naming sponsor s suite is generally subject to standard conditions set forth in a separate suite lease agreement all suite holders are required to sign. http://www. the sponsor is responsible for entertainment costs associated with food. the Qwest naming agree-­ ment included a commitment by the Seahawks and affiliates to purchase a minimum of $1. However. Sponsors seek sponsorship relationships that will generate new business and create opportunities for face-­to-­face interaction with consumers and prospects. 20. beverage. 29. As a suite holder. Part of the allure of a naming rights agreement for a sponsor is the opportunity to gain other sponsorship rights. also known as the Goodie List. and concierge services provided at the request of the naming sponsor during games.802 NORTH DAKOTA LAW REVIEW [VOL. 28.

At the time the naming sponsor. however. Recent developments. such as Cambria quartz countertops. 2. Some venue operators allow suite holders to make alterations to the suite or modify the suite s fixtures. However. The appointments are top of the line. stainless steel sinks and refrigerators. there are several possible ways to address alcohol use in the suite. club members and holders of loge boxes signed their suite and luxury seating agreements. suite holders. before the inaugural season in the new stadium. Decor. The sponsor should also require the venue operator to agree in the naming agreement not to prosecute the sponsor or any of the sponsor s invitees for bringing in alcohol or attempting to bring in alcohol in violation of any ban. equipment. especially if the suite is in a collegiate venue. and floor covering. the sponsor or prospective suite holder should not agree to the deal. and elite cabinetry. and it is typically implied the beverage service will include alcohol in the naming sponsor s suite. clubs.2010] 1. counsel should insist the applicable naming agreement or suite agreement specifies there will be no prohibition of the use of alcohol in the suite during games and events. The prospective sponsor should insist on written assurances the sponsor will be allowed to provide alcohol to its guests even if the owner or operator of the venue bans alcohol in the facility. Within a naming agreement. and other luxury seating areas. NAMING AGREEMENTS Furnishings. Counsel should further insist the agreement include written provisions providing for a discount in the price of the suite if the owners or operators of the venue prohibit alcohol use in the suite. furnishings. but cabinetry and countertops are consistent throughout the suites. If the seller of the naming rights or suite is not willing to agree to the provisions. the University of Minnesota adopted a policy prohibiting the sale or use of alcohol anywhere . may make alcohol service less common. but most venues provide a menu of options for furniture and equipment from which the suite holder may choose. If alcohol use is of importance to the naming sponsor. or equipment. Use of the Suite All suites have a food and beverage service available. the impression was given alcohol would be permitted in the suites. A recent example of a controversial policy involves the University of Minnesota and its new football stadium on campus. and Alterations 803 Suite holders are usually given a menu of options for furnishings.

Apr. whose taxes were helping pay for the stadium. The university s ban on alcohol currently includes the DQ Clubroom.404(4a)(3) (2010). § 340A. 33. Good Seats.32 The University of Minnesota adopted its no-­alcohol policy in response to the Minnesota Legislature passing a law prohibiting the university from discriminating against ordinary ticket holders who purchase tickets in the bowl seating areas. Hard Sell. leaving suite holders and club patrons without the option of serving alcoholic beverages to their guests.com/local/minneapolis/49012236 html. 22. 23. 35. INSIDE HIGHER ED (Sept. Tribune published an editorial supporting the University and recommending the Minnesota Legislature let the University operate the stadium as it sees fit.804 NORTH DAKOTA LAW REVIEW [VOL. the same Minnesotans should be considered responsible enough to enjoy an adult beverage in the stadium they are paying for through taxes.com/news/2009/09/22/luxury. STAR TRIB. which includes two massive bars. or prohibit all alcohol consumption. June 25. except in student and family sections of the stadium.startribune. http://www. 2010. No Booze for U Sports Fans. 86:789 in the stadium. 2009. startribune. http://www. Let the U Operate TCF Stadium.com/opinion/editorials/ 91944814 html. The unavailability of alcohol in a suite virtually guarantees the host will have a difficult time enticing clients and guests to stay for the duration of the event or accept a future invitation. and the Indoor Club. . 2009). the Minnesota Legislature relaxed the restrictions and amended the statute to allow alcohol to be served in premium seating as long as it was also available in one-­third of the general seating. which includes com-­ plimentary food and beverage service and is the highest-­priced seating available in the facility. 32. Alex Ebert.31 Under the university policy. Laws 3-­4. 34. suite holders could not even bring in their own alcohol for their guests.insidehighered. STAR TRIB ..35 31. The obvious point of the Legislature s action was to allow the average sports fan. The law also requires the university to either allow alcohol sales and use throughout the bowl seating areas. While alcohol is certainly not essential to enjoying a football or baseball game. http://www. See Editorial. to enjoy a beer in the cheap seats if university administration and large donors could consume alcohol in the exclusive suites and clubs. MINN. 2009 Minn. During the 2010 session. the University of Minnesota again refused to compromise. STAT.33 The Legislature appeared to be sending a message that if Minnesotans were responsible enough to be taxed for the new Gopher football stadium. it is assumed in nearly every business and political social setting that alcohol will be available. See David Moltz.34 Despite the concession by the Legislature.

arenas. Suite holders are prohibited from changing the locks or placing additional locks on doors. repairs. to deliver food and beverages. as well as open clubs and restaurants available to the general fan base. or to check the condition of the suite. covering a broad variety of price points. B. Access Most venues provide two sets of keys to the suite door. Some venues provide suite holders with their supplemental suite tickets in advance at no initial charge and bill the suite holder only if the tickets are scanned at the gate. The capacity of suites is usually greater than the number of tickets assigned to the suite. and stadiums may have two or three clubs. suite holders are responsible for any costs. However. CLUB MEMBERSHIPS New sports venues have a variety of clubs. Typical suite agreements reserve the right for the venue operator to enter the suite. D. or maintenance required due to misuse or negligence by the suite holder or guests. to clean or maintain cabinets and refrigerator. The sponsor should also use the VIP opportunity to secure additional parking passes for the other premium seating packages the sponsor purchased in conjunction with the naming agreement. . NAMING AGREEMENTS Repair and Maintenance 805 Suite rules usually require suite holders to leave their suite in good order after each use. 4. cabinets. and suite holders are given the option to purchase additional tickets up to the fire code capacity for a predetermined price. cabinets or refrigerators. PARKING PASSES VIP parking is among the most coveted benefits of sports patrons. TICKETS Most suites come with a prescribed minimum number of tickets for each event. newer facilities like Citizens Bank Park and Target Field have a number of exclusive clubs requiring large annual membership fees. and retain master keys for the suites. and refrigerator. The naming sponsor should expect a minimum of one parking pass to all home games for every four suite tickets included in the arrangement.2010] 3. The venue operator normally handles cleaning after each event and maintains the suite in reasonable repair and good working order. While smaller and older ballparks. C.

86:789 A naming sponsor could potentially secure access to the clubs by including a provision within a naming agreement. and the price of club memberships. prime location seating and associated costs can easily add another twenty to thirty percent to the sponsor s annual commitment. In order to maintain the suite for the naming sponsor. and other performances at a price per ticket that does not exceed the average reserved seat ticket price for that event in the venue. Keeping clubs. PRIME SEAT PURCHASE PRIORITY Another benefit is the naming sponsor s potential opportunity to purchase a specified number of prime location season tickets with the right to select seats ahead of all others. but the naming sponsor essentially jumps to the head of the selection line for all prime seats within the venue. Some agreements include the price of a specified number of prime seats into the base naming agreement. The naming sponsor should also consider whether it would want to reserve the right to assign all or a portion of its luxury seating rights to key employees. but should not require the suite holder to purchase any minimum number of tickets to any performance. the sponsor s right to renew season tickets will be subject to the ordinary season ticket fees applicable to those prime locations. The seller may be resistant to grant such assignment rights because it may give up too much control over its ticket inventory. it should insist on the right to purchase or decline to purchase event tickets to concerts. Opening a new venue typically involves a turf battle between major donors or corporate sponsors and longtime season ticket holders who have maintained prime location seats in the old facility without paying seat license fees or preferred seating fees. may take place at the venue. F. loge boxes.806 NORTH DAKOTA LAW REVIEW [VOL. If the naming sponsor would want to attend other events. loge boxes. and prime bowl seating commitments separate allows the sponsor the flexibility to cut back on expenses if economic conditions change. E. The sponsor s right to purchase should include a number of tickets equal to the capacity of the suite. Naming agreements typically last for twenty or more years. but the . shows. The venue operator decides how to rank each party s seat location priority in the new venue. but others prefer to keep all but the prime suite as a separate commitment. However. counsel should ensure the agreement does not allow the venue to rent the naming sponsor s suite to a third party if the suite holder declines to purchase tickets to a particular concert or event. such as concerts. CONCERTS AND OTHER PUBLIC EVENTS Other types of events.

2010] NAMING AGREEMENTS 807 seller may actually benefit because assignments of the sponsor s luxury seating to employees will typically include the retiring chairman. perk for a naming sponsor. VIP EVENTS AND RECEPTIONS Passes to all pre-­game VIP events that serve food and beverages may also be available to the naming sponsor. The specific game is usually negotiated season-­by-­season and is subject to certain limitations with regard to the availability of tickets and seats on the plane for a particular away game. CEO. directors. If the seller is a university. and desirable. a sponsor may wish to include a right to purchase a specified number of additional invitations. and food. providing the opportunity for the institution to benefit financially from the assignment of the naming sponsor s prime ticket rights to retiring execu-­ tives. XI. However. G. ground transportation. TRAVEL AND OTHER EXPERIENCES NOT FOR SALE TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC VIP trips along with major college football teams may also be an available. Naming sponsors of professional and collegiate facilities should receive the opportunity to purchase prime tickets to concerts and other non-­athletic events held in the facility. the individuals who receive the assignment of luxury seating rights are likely to continue to be loyal to the athletic programs and become donors who support the academic mission of the university. When a company sponsors a collegiate facility. complete with hotel. The seller may also provide tickets for four persons to one conference away football game per year during the regular season. But the commitment to one game per season remains firm. as well. H. The number of complementary passes to each pre-­game event typically equals the number of corresponding game tickets provided with the naming sponsor s suite. and other key executives who were instrumental in approving the decision to enter the naming agreement with the seller. SUCCESSES AND FAILURES OF NAMING SPONSORS Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia is successful stadium branding from the naming sponsor s perspective and serves as an example of what a . the sponsor will want an opportunity to purchase a specified number of prime tickets to other sporting events in other campus venues. The seller of the naming rights may provide a trip for four individuals per season on the team charter plane as part of the team s official entourage for one away game.

the key is consistency at every touch point. and even the garbage cans. entrance. or anywhere the sponsor conducts any advertising or business activity. WHY JOHNNY CAN T BRAND REDISCOVERING THE LOST ART OF THE BIG IDEA 39 (2005). everything utilizes the distinctive green and white colors found at every Citizen s Bank branch and ATM. Jr. and touring the city of Philadelphia. a location that ensures every home run hit to left field will have the Citizens Bank Park sign in the background. Why Johnny Can t Brand. See id. illuminated stadium name is situated beneath the main scoreboard just above the open concourse in left field upper deck. Schley and Nichols assert such relentless consistency and repetition can make the sponsor s brand more tangible to consumers. Schley and Nichols use the analogy of a big brother poking his little brother lightly over and over in the same exact spot in the exact same way to explain how consistent branding messages build up over time until they prompt a reaction from the target.38 For Citizens Bank and other naming sponsors who wish to target consumers to switch to the sponsor s brand or remain loyal to its brand. trademarks and images. 38. Touch points are opportunities of interaction with a fan. stylized lettering. garbage can. at the sponsor s place of business. The large. the entry gates.36 The consistency is apparent in the largest stadium name sign.39 Counsel to the naming sponsor should endeavor to educate and advise the client to follow 36. the first aid stations. and advertising outside of Citizens Bank Park. Bill Schley and Carl Nichols. video or print advertisement. and touch point at the ballpark not only with the other ballpark components. With excep-­ tion to the cup holders. A distinctive green glow from the signs is also apparent throughout the city as Citizens Bank s ATMs are branded with the same shade of green as fans see everywhere at the ballpark. the children s game area. and depiction of the sponsor s brand on anything the fan uses or sees at the sports venue. 37. at 131-­32. loan production offices. 86:789 naming sponsor s counsel should strive to accomplish. nametag. JR. but with the bank s branding of branches. ATMs. refer to such consistency as TCA or Total Consistent Alignment. message. and guarantees every associated highlight on national and local television includes a subtle advertisement for the bank.37 In their book. and taking advantage of touch points includes maintaining the consistent branding at every sign.. Id. . Citizens Bank s branding team managed to align every sign. BILL SCHLEY & CARL NICHOLS. Virtually every depiction of Citizens Bank at the ballpark uses the exact same color scheme.808 NORTH DAKOTA LAW REVIEW [VOL. 39.

is an extension of the bank s overall branding dysfunction in the marketplace. the bank employed no less than three other variations of the stylized PNC word mark throughout the ballpark and away from the ballpark. and video. Other naming sponsors have fallen victim to placement of the stadium name high atop the scoreboard like PNC and missed the opportunity to have 40. and a PNC pinwheel-­shaped corporate logo. PNC s branding within the venue.about. but also stylized word marks and logos. the placement of the stadium name and logo within the facility must consider location. and encourage the client to align all of its branding touch points within the stadium with the sponsor s branding of its products and services away from the stadium. . changing your message too often. In order to be entirely successful. negotiate the right for the naming sponsor to employ such strategies in the sponsor s stadium branding. Given PNC s lack of bran-­ ding consistency within the ballpark. See SCHLEY & NICHOLS. let alone convincing them to switch to or remain loyal to the bank.com/od/pictures/ig/ pnc_park/scoreboard htm (last visited June 8. it is questionable whether the bank is reaching its target consumers. different stylized lettering. ABOUT COM. http://pittsburgh. but the PNC adver-­ tisement on the body of the scoreboard utilizes different colors. On the other hand. bigger is not necessarily better. audio. .2010] NAMING AGREEMENTS 809 the TCA formula like Citizens Bank did. draft contract language clearly spelling out the client s branding rights at the stadium. See Scoreboard at PNC Park. location. Nor is PNC alone when it comes to thoughtless location of the stadium name. counsel must understand consumer contact concepts fully. 2011). and establish an implementation plan the client can follow to make the most of the opport-­ unities the naming rights provide. . inconsistent. Schley and Nichols identified such inconsistency and lack of branding focus as one of the twelve most common mistakes made by amateurs: Chopping down your trees before they grow . at 47-­48. though. and ineffective stadium branding. 41.40 As recently as 2006. With regard to large displays of the stadium name. PNC Park in Pittsburgh is an example of what can happen if the client does not have a coordinated naming rights strategy and marketing plan. while still a fan-­friendly ballpark. 131-­32. PNC is not alone among naming sponsors exhibiting symptoms of dysfunctional marketing as manifested in unfocused. supra note 38. Like real estate generally. The PNC Park name appears atop the main scoreboard accompanied by a PNC horizontal corporate logo. location. 41 Branding messages include not only written text.

.; Chris Shuttlesworth. 27. http://www. http://www.810 NORTH DAKOTA LAW REVIEW [VOL. 2:10 PM). MLB COM (Mar. 2007). while Toyota. and Tropicana Field display the stadium name above even the highest level. Safeway. See AT&T Park Scoreboard. See MLB Stadiums That Need New or Updated Scoreboards.43 Although it is always beneficial to the naming sponsor to have consumers see an illuminated stadium name from the freeway or the air. CONCLUSION Some clients who decide to invest in naming rights think too much about tangible benefits such as free tickets or specific sign locations instead of intangible benefits of acquiring naming rights such as the elevation in corporate stature that will result from disciplined adherence to a sound strategic marketing plan augmented by the sponsor s investment in naming rights. Encouraging the client to develop a consistent marketing strategy as part of the stadium branding initiative is a means to ensure the stadium touch points are relentlessly consistent within the venue and with 42. counsel can discuss early on marketing strategy with the client in order to be more effective advocate for your client throughout the process of acquiring and exploiting naming rights.php?82271-­MLB-­ Stadiums-­That-­Need-­New-­Or-­Updated-­Scoreboards. the stadium name appears high above the new high definition video board and stadium clock. BASEBALL FEVER BLOG (Aug.jsp?ymd=20070328&content_id=1862944&vkey=spt2007news&fext =. and Budweiser occupy the prime location in video and still photos of the scoreboard and center field action. 43. Once naming rights become more tangible.baseball-­fever.S.com/showthread.imagekind. 2008. astros mlb. Counsel s strategy in negotiating and drafting a naming agreement must take into consideration the client s objectives regarding elevating brand awareness and being aligned with the sports team that is the primary tenant in the venue to be named.com/news/article. Cellular Park. but from the market represented by the visiting team. Counsel must be aware of the client s marketing strategy and demo-­ graphics of customers or prospective customers the client hopes to influence by investing in naming rights. AT&T Park Gets High-­Def Upgrade. 2011). http://houston.com/AT&T-­Park-­ Scoreboard-­art?IMID=766103a3-­5d55-­470e-­ba94-­0f2d9874d119 (last visited July 9. it is essential for the client s name to appear in the location most likely to be seen on live television and video replays because the sponsor s customers and potential customers are not only from the local market. 18.42 Chase Field. U. At AT&T Park. XII. IMAGEKIND. television exposure provides the most potential for worldwide exposure. Therefore. 86:789 their corporate identity appear prominently and frequently in the background during live television and replays of game action. which assures their naming sponsors will rarely have their respective corporate names appear as part of game action video or photos.jsp&c_id=sf.

2010] NAMING AGREEMENTS 811 the client s branding of its products and services away from the stadium. . Although branding is important. How the naming sponsor utilizes the opportunities created by new relationships and how the sponsor displays itself will determine whether the investment in naming rights was worthwhile. counsel must also be effective in negotiating and drafting the naming rights agreement and must address what happens after the agreement is finalized.

86:789 .812 NORTH DAKOTA LAW REVIEW APPENDIX A [VOL.