Recently, the new 49ers stadium that is being built in Santa Clara got a naming rights deal. Levi Strauss & Co. was unanimously approved last Thursday night, and the $220 million, 20 year deal went into effect. It’s the second richest stadium deal in the NFL – behind only MetLife Stadium used for the Jets and the Giants – and the facility will be named Levi’s Stadium.
While many might find Levi’s Stadium as kind of a lame name, especially because 1) it’s a jeans company and 2) consumers already have images of football and jeans in their minds from the Brett Favre Wrangler commercials and that’s not necessarily a good thing, I think it’s hard to ignore the historical significance of Levi’s to the San Francisco area.
As NFL.com put it: “Levi’s was founded in 1853 by German immigrant Levi Strauss, who opened a dry goods store for gold miners in San Francisco. His firm switched from heavy brown cloth to create the first denim blue jeans in 1873, catering to manual laborers who needed tougher material to withstand the rigors of their toils.”
The local connection between Levi’s and the greater San Francisco area is a good story, and seems like the perfect fit – sort of like their jeans. This brings me to my next point: if the Chiefs were to ever sell the naming rights of Arrowhead Stadium, or the field, who would be a good corporate partner?
Let me pause for a second and clarify something: I, in no way, shape, or form, support selling the naming rights of Arrowhead Stadium. The Jackson County Sports Complex Authority as well as the Hunt family would get a lot of unhappy fans if the naming rights to Arrowhead were sold, and I would be among them. But don’t let that lead you to believe they’ve never considered it. Back in 2008, the Kansas City Star reported the club announcing that it had entered into an agreement with IMG, a global sports and entertainment company, to pursue a sponsor for the naming rights to Arrowhead. “As we go down the path of bringing in a partner on the field, we would like to keep Arrowhead part of the name,” said Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt. At that time, the team was hoping to get $5.5 million a year for the stadium and $800,000 for the practice facility.
That deal never got done – although the naming rights to the training complex have recently been sold to the University of Kansas Hospital – but rumors of another deal sprung up in 2011. Although this report was never confirmed as in 2008, Bob Gretz of bobgretz.com reported “It appears [the Chiefs] finally found a business entity to pony up for the right to put its name on the stadium, or the playing field. Word is that an announcement will likely come in conjunction with the Monday night game against San Diego on Halloween. No leaks on the name of the company involved, but the word is that it’s a national name, not local, and that this company has not previously been involved in buying naming rights to sports facilities. I’ve been told it will be a very familiar name, one that fans won’t have to use Goggle to discover what that company does.” And yes, he did spell it Goggle.
Once again, that deal either didn’t come through or was just a case of bad reporting. The point is, selling the naming rights to Arrowhead is not out of the realm of possibility, and although I don’t support it, we have to acknowledge that the NFL is a business and teams do whatever it takes to make money. Would fans still come to games if it was [Fill in the blank] Field at Arrowhead Stadium? Yeah. But I think the disgruntled fan factor would be lessened if the naming rights deal was with someone that made sense to Kansas City, someone that had that same kind of fit that Levi’s did with the 49ers. So let’s have some fun, put on our hypothetical hats, and consider potential corporate partners.
Here are some Kansas City-based examples, ranked from lame to pretty cool:
Hallmark Field at Arrowhead Stadium
Russell Stover Candies Field at Arrowhead Stadium
CommunityAmerica Credit Union Field at Arrowhead Stadium
Kansas City Power & Light Field at Arrowhead Stadium
Boulevard Brewing Company Field at Arrowhead Stadium
Oklahoma Joe’s Field at Arrowhead Stadium
The last one was mostly a joke, but if it meant I could buy Z-Man’s at the games, then I would jump on board this corporate sponsor bandwagon. Fill up the comments section with your suggestions. This is just for fun, so I don’t want 100 comments about how the stadium name shouldn’t change. Get creative, have fun with it and remember, no matter what you put, it will still be better than the Raiders’ O.co Coliseum.