Braves, Falcons explore naming rights for new stadiums

by: Richard Elliot Updated:


ATLANTA - Both the Atlanta Falcons and the Atlanta Braves have hired agencies to help them search for corporations that might be interested in purchasing the naming rights to the teams' brand new stadiums. 

Experts think the Falcons could get a deal worth about $20 million a year deal for 20 years or longer, which would place them among the very top tier of NFL stadium naming rights deals.

"I think it's a significant revenue stream that comes in for the team to utilize," said Atlanta Falcons Executive Vice President Jim Smith, the team's chief revenue and marketing officer.  "But it gives a real identity to the stadium, and we think it's going to be a real attractive opportunity for a partner to look at."

Smith believes the Falcons new stadium could attract top corporations and top dollar because of a number of factors.  First, he said, is the fact that the Falcons stadium will be a unique indoor/outdoor design.

"This building is truly something the word has yet to see," said Smith.  "I think that's generated a lot of interest from around the globe."

Secondly, Smith said, the new stadium will not only host Falcons home games.  It will also host Atlanta's new Major League Soccer franchise along with the Chick-fil-A Bowl, the SEC Championship, possibly future college national championship games along with one or more Super Bowls and NCAA Final Fours.

Some experts believe the Falcons could pull off a similar deal to what the Dallas Cowboys got when they sold the naming rights to their stadium to AT&T for approximately $20 million a year.

"If you look at a stadium like AT&T Stadium in Dallas which is pulling close to $20 million a year naming rights for 30 years, that's a lot of money," said sports marketing expert I.J. Rosenberg of Score Atlanta.  "I mean that's going to pay for a good part of your stadium.

Currently, the price tag for the new Falcons stadium is over $1 billion.  Rosenberg believes the Braves can get significant money for the naming rights for their new Cobb County stadium, but probably not as much as the Falcons since it would be limited to just baseball.  The Braves front office did not return calls for this story.

Smith said the team has options what do to with the income generated from the naming rights including using it as operating revenue or to pay down stadium construction debt.

"So all teams use it for different reasons really," said Smith.  "That'll come down to a finance decision. What's the best use of the revenue stream."

While many people believe the Falcons and Braves might try to go after local corporations like Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, or UPS, some think those corporations don't need that kind of exposure.  Rosenberg believes other companies, including Georgia-based Kia, might want to bid for the naming rights.

"I don't think The Home Depot or Coke or any of those type companies will be the ones that land the naming sponsorships for the new stadium," Rosenberg said.  "I think it might even be a name that surprises you."

Rosenberg points to the fact that Philips of Philips Arena is not an Atlanta company.

Smith said any naming rights deal is probably a while off.  He believes if they can get a contract by the end of 2015, they'll be ahead of the game. He also said the team is not just looking for any corporation.  He said the Falcons want one that fits with the team.

"It's finding the right partner," Smith said.  "Our search is about finding the right partner that fits our philosophy and objectives, but also that we can meet their market objectives. So I think it's really about doing a needs analysis with all the companies that might have an interest in this and determining who would be our best partner, the best fit for both sides."

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