March 24th, 2008

Name of Metro Airport’s North Terminal For Sale

By Bill Shea
Crain's Detroit Business

The Wayne County Airport Authority board on Thursday awarded a 10-year contract to Rochester-based General Sports and Entertainment L.L.C. to handle naming rights, sponsorships and related marketing for Detroit Metropolitan Airport’s new north terminal.

It’s believed to be the first naming rights deal for an airport terminal in the U.S., said Michael Conway, director of public affairs for the airport authority. The airport in Winnipeg is also looking into such a deal.

The contract calls for General Sports to get a 12 percent to 15 percent commission and up to $75,000 for asset valuation. The company will establish naming rights values for the airport, including its other elements such as jetways and parking garages, and then seek buyers.

The name of the airport itself is not for sale, Conway said. Money for a name deal would go into an airport improvement fund.

The $450 million, 824,000-square-foot north terminal is scheduled to open in the fall and will replace the Smith and Berry terminals.

It’s unclear how much a naming deal could be worth for the new terminal. Comerica Inc. signed a 30-year, $66 million deal in 1998 to put its name on the home of the Detroit Tigers, while Ford Motor Co. paid $40 million in 2002 for a 40-year deal for the Detroit Lions’ home venue.

The naming-rights contract came at the same meeting in which the authority delayed a vote until May on a controversial $3.6 billion, 20-year airport master improvement plan.

Andy Appleby, chairman and CEO of General Sports, was out of town Friday and said he couldn’t comment. Appleby led a consortium that bought an English Premier League soccer team, and he said it would sell naming rights to its stadium.


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