INTERNATIONAL FLAVOR: Inter&Co Stadium is the new name of the MLS/NWSL facility in Orlando, Florida. A mockup shows the Brazil bank’s brand on the building’s exterior. (Courtesy teams)

Strong ties to Brazil lead to naming rights

Inter&Co, a Brazilian bank with $10-plus billion in global assets, has signed a historic naming rights deal for the stadium that’s home to MLS Orlando City SC and the NWSL Orlando Pride.

The 10-year agreement, officially announced today, is valued at more than $55 million, according to industry sources. The new name is Inter&Co Stadium for the 25,000-seat facility that opened in 2017 in downtown Orlando.

Inter&Co stands as the first bank with Latin American roots to hold naming rights for a U.S. sports facility, according to Jarrod Dillon, president of business operations for the two Orlando soccer clubs.

Orlando City SC and the Orlando Pride are majority owned by the Wilf family, who also own the NFL Minnesota Vikings.

Sports marketers said the financial terms are impressive, considering it’s a 7-year-old building going through its second rebrand. It was previously Exploria Stadium, named for a hotel and resort company that held the rights for the past four years. The stadium went through its first two-plus years without a naming rights partner. Exploria will continue to be a sponsor as the teams’ exclusive resort and time share partner, but at a lower level than naming rights, Dillon said.

The effect of Lionel Messi, soccer’s greatest player, playing in MLS with Inter Miami CF, coupled with the league’s media rights agreement with Apple’s streaming platform drawing millions of eyeballs to the overall product have helped escalate the value of naming rights for those stadiums, said Rob Yowell, president and founder of Gemini Sports Group with 30-plus years of experience in that piece of the industry.

In Orlando, the teams’ executives didn’t have to go far to find Inter&Co, whose focus is on digital commerce services.

Toward the end of the 2023 season, the teams signed a deal with the bank in the financial services category, and as their relationship grew over the past few months, discussions began on forming a bigger partnership with naming rights. Orlando City SC and the Orlando Pride both have Brazilian players, as well as general manager Luis Muzzi and assistant general manager Ricardo Moreira on the men’s side, Dillon said.

“One of the things we’re proud of when you look at the demographics and layout of central Florida is we’re heavy on Latin Americans and Brazilians, with one of the highest populations in the U.S., and also the most frequently traveled from those countries,” he said.

In addition, Inter&Co is heavily involved in soccer across Latin America and has deals with multiple teams, so it made sense to expand the partnership in Orlando with naming rights, Dillon said.

“There was quick growth on the initial deal and it picked up a lot of steam when we met with their leadership in Brazil and our ownership,” he said. “We sat down and talked about what we could do together with the stadium and in the community. They’re going to focus specifically on financial education and literacy programs locally.”

The deal extends to international rights for both Orlando teams to go into Brazil and other Latin American countries to spread awareness of their brands with opportunities to develop potential training centers and schedule matches with teams in those communities, Dillon said.

At Inter&Co Stadium, soccer fans will be encouraged to download the bank’s mobile application to conduct their banking needs, whether it’s checking accounts, applying for credit cards and mortgages and executing international money transfers to family back home, a key service for Latin Americans, Dillon said.

For the two soccer teams, Kelly Hind, senior vice president of brand alliances; Carlos Osorio, chief finance officer; and Pedro Arajuo, chief marketing officer, were principally involved in negotiating the naming rights deal.

OVG Global Partnerships consulted for the teams on the agreement.

“Carlos and Pedro are both Brazilian and have been in the U.S. for many years,” Dillon said. “They were key leaders in getting to know the people and the process, how business is done in both countries, and were instrumental in helping Kelly and work with Inter&Co with this agreement.”

The stadium rebrand dovetails with several upgrades to concessions and premium spaces, including an updated videoboard; a new club underneath the board near the main entrance called the Terrace; and a 20,000-square-foot expansion of the fan zone outside the building. The Terrace consists of 36 half-moon tables tied to groups of two and four seats. 4Topps, a well known seating manufacturer, is producing the seats.

All told, the Wilfs have invested $7 million in stadium improvements over the past two years, Dillon said.