August 9th, 2001

Nuisance Ads: Buying the Naming Rights to Stadiums Is a Dumb Idea

By Leigh Montville
Sports Illustrated

The state of Louisiana on Tuesday selected a California marketing firm to find a corporate buyer for the naming rights to the Louisiana Superdome. The marketing firm in the past has negotiated a 20-year deal for $185 million to name the Philips Arena in Atlanta and another 20-year deal for $116 million to name the Staples center in Los Angeles. The state of Louisiana obviously is looking for a similar windfall from the Superdome.

Well, here’s my message to any company foolish enough to put up the money: I, the consumer, cannot remember the name of any arenas or stadiums anymore. And I am not alone.

The mind has rebelled at these Qualcomms and Delta Centers and MCI whatevers of the land. Which is which? Who knows? Who cares? The same little shutoff that keeps the dates of in-laws birthdays, the names of car salesmen and the men in Julia Roberts’ life from registering is at work here. A name on a stadium is nothing more than an ineffectual, nuisance ad.

An example is the new Mile High Stadium in Denver. Some company bought the naming rights—whatever the new name is—and Denver columnist Woody Paige told his public that he, himself, was going to call the stadium "The Diaphragm." The company has said it was going to sue Woody for something or other. It all will be settled somehow.

I only know that I remember "The Diaphragm." I have no idea what the company’s name is.


  1. Posted by on February 24th, 2006

    Performance Research (1997) reported that on average 60% of the population in a given market will recall that the facility is named after a corporate sponsor. They polled a total of 724 randomly selected respondents in 14 cities which were divided among those who had corporately named facilities and those who did not. Unaided recall of NBA arenas bearing corporate identification was highest with 81% of respondents able to identify the rights holders name while it was lowest among NHL franchises with only 51% correctly citing the facility’s corporate moniker. In contrast 67% of respondents suggested that the “corporate sponsorship of the facility adds to the community”. When queried about the effect of the sponsorship on their purchase intent 26% suggested that increased purchase consideration while 68% reported no change.

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