Mercedes-Benz has signed a 10-year agreement to acquire naming rights to the Louisiana Superdome, which is home of the NFL's New Orleans Saints and the venue for as many as a record-breaking six Super Bowl games. This sponsorship deal actually began as part of small talk during a dealer meeting in Stuttgart, Germany.
But now, the New Orleans' landmark sports stadium has been renamed as the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Tom Benson, the owner of Mercedes-Benz dealerships in New Orleans and San Antonio, owns the football team. Benson and Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Ernst Lieb were both at a dealer meeting in Stuttgart last April.
It was during this time that Benson made a casual mention that the team had gotten permission from the state of Louisiana to shop for naming rights for the stadium. Steve Cannon, vice president of marketing for Mercedes-Benz USA, said that it’s not like the company was looking for a stadium deal since these are “really big, high-dollar long-term deals."
Cannon quickly saw the marketing potential and started talks for a deal for an unspecified figure to snatch the naming rights. He added that this opportunity stands for a presence that’s a lot larger than anything that has been done in the past. The company didn’t release the financial terms of the agreement.
But a report from the Times-Picayune of New Orleans cited sources who revealed that the deal is valued at between $50 million and $60 million.
According to The New York Times, the money is meant to replace majority or all of the subsidies that the team gets from the state of Louisiana. The state gave a total of $186.5 million to the Saints under an older lease that expired in 2009. The annual payments in this new lease are capped at $6 million. The Times reported that the Saints acquired the right to sell the naming rights under the current lease.
The Louisiana Superdome is a domed sports venue located on 70 acres (28 ha) of land, including the former Girod Street Cemetery. It is situated in the Central Business District of New Orleans, Louisiana. It serves as the home venue for the New Orleans Saints of the National Football League (NFL). Plans for the Louisiana Superdome were drawn up in 1967 by Curtis and Davis, and the sports venue opened in 1975. It boasts of being the largest fixed domed structure in the world.
In 2005, the Louisiana Superdome housed thousands of people who sought shelter from Hurricane Katrina. It suffered extensive damage from the storm, and was closed for several months. After repair and refurbishment, the Louisiana Superdome reopened on September 25, 2006.