The Arizona Cardinals are seeking a new naming-rights partner for University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
The NCAA’s announcement of Phoenix as the site of the 2024 NCAA Final Four strengthens the Arizona Cardinals’ position for signing a new naming-rights partner for their stadium, according to a team marketing consultant.
Rob Yowell, president of Gemini Sports Group, recently completed a consulting agreement with the Arizona Cardinals to help them identify potential partners to rebrand University of Phoenix Stadium in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale. Yowell’s deal expired in June, but he continues to follow up on marketing leads for the Cardinals among a list of 100 companies. Some of those conversations focus on naming rights and others on smaller sponsorships, he said.
Last year, University of Phoenix and the Cardinals agreed to a revised partnership in which the online education institution will become a founding partner at a lower level than holding naming rights to the facility. In 2006, the institution signed a 20-year, $154.5 million agreement, but company officials adjusted their marketing focus and wanted to go in a different direction, according to local reports. University of Phoenix continues to make payments on its original deal until a new naming-rights partner is found, Yowell said.
The news of the Final Four returning to Greater Phoenix for the second time in the city’s history after it played host to the 2017 event should create stronger interest among firms deciding whether to name a multipurpose building that also books the Super Bowl, College Football Playoff and the Fiesta Bowl, among other major events.
“Those are all things we have factored into the ask,” he said. “It just gives the buyer a more definitive profile of the building. Now, we have dates. If nothing else, it may hopefully move someone off of kicking the tires, to now, ‘Let’s talk. I can justify it now … with Super Bowl and Final Four … not just games.’”
The cash value of naming rights has escalated in recent years in part because of the increase in digital media assets and social media, among other factors. Some experts speculate that under terms of a new agreement the Cardinals could double the $7.7 million a year they now generate in naming-rights revenue. In Arizona, though, the key issue resides deep in the deal points with regard to exclusivity. It’s a tricky process to navigate for signing deals of this magnitude, Yowell said.
“Some of the conversations that have come up in the finance category [for example] would be all-inclusive,” he said. The potential partner “wants to make sure the credit union is out, the bank’s out and the insurance guy is out, and that could be another $2 million to $3 million in current spending that would need to be made up in the deal, if you’re going to [kick] those people out.”
The situation was apparently a deal breaker a few years ago after the Cardinals first went to market to find a new naming-rights partner, Yowell said.
“They had three different car companies that were in there [as Cardinals sponsors] and nobody was stepping up for naming rights,” he said. “The one [auto manufacturer] on the outside was [interested] and the Cardinals wanted to capture what they were getting from that category plus the naming-rights number, and that’s where that deal went south.”
Steve Ryan, the Cardinals’ senior vice president of business development, did not return an email for comment this week. In late May, Ryan said by email that there were no updates on naming rights.