MetLife has naming rights to Meadowlands Stadium

MetLife is upping the ante and taking on a bigger role at the

new home of the Jets and Giants, and the 2014 Super Bowl.

The New York-based insurance giant signed an agreement Tuesday

with the NFL teams to buy the naming rights to the $1.6 billion

stadium that will be the site of the league’s title game in three

years.

None of the parties would say how much North America’s largest

insurance company paid for the right to call the one-year-old

facility MetLife Stadium for the next 25 years, although there have

been multiple reports that the deal will net the co-owners between

$17 million to $20 million annually.

MetLife chief executive Steven A. Kandarian said his company

wanted to partner with a world-class venue that would expose its

brand to even higher level.

Kandarian said that having the Super Bowl played in MetLife

Stadium was “an added benefit” in negotiating a naming rights deal

that has eluded the Jets and Giants for three years.

“Had there not been a Super Bowl,” he said, “we still would have

done this transaction.”

As soon as the words left his mouth, Giants co-owner John Mara

pounced.

“Now you tell me,” Mara quipped, drawing laughter from those at

the news conference at the stadium that opened a year ago and which

had been known as the New Meadowlands Stadium.

Sitting behind a white helmet emblazoned with MetLife Stadium

and a New York City skyline with a blimp over it, Kandarian was as

quick with his response.

“But perhaps,” he said, “at a different price.”

As part of the deal, the Meadowlands sports complex – at least

the area that includes the stadium, the Meadowlands Racetrack and

the Giants headquarters – will be known as the MetLife sports

complex.

The state of New Jersey owns the land, but it gave the Jets and

Giants permission to sell the complex naming rights when they

agreed to privately fund and build the stadium.

MetLife has been associated with the teams for almost three

years, It had been paying them between $7 million to $8 million

annually to be one of four cornerstone sponsors for the stadium

along with Verizon, Anheuser-Busch and PepsiCo.

Beth Hirschhorn, the MetLife executive that helped negotiate the

deal, said MetLife also will receive working space at the stadium

to expose its products to the roughly two million fans who come to

the facility annually to watch football, college sports and

concerts.

Hirschhorn said MetLife isn’t worried about getting a return on

its investment, saying having the name on the stadium will be a

constant reminder to people.

“A reminder of the brand is what we are trying to achieve,” she

said. “Aside from awareness, this is a brand that is well liked and

well-known once people are given a reminder. That’s what is

contributing to this ROI.”

The Giants and Jets were close to a deal with Allianz in 2008

that would have been worth an estimated $30 million annually.

Negotiations, however, ended when it was disclosed the that the

German insurance company once had ties to the Nazis, a revelation

that brought criticism from Jewish organizations, Holocaust

survivors and some football fans.

Mark Lamping, the chief executive of the New Meadowlands Stadium

company, which operates the stadium, said the teams did their due

diligence in vetting MetLife, adding their working relationship

with them the past three years left little doubt they were worthy

associate.

“Sometimes it just takes time,” Lamping said of the deal. “I

know in this case, we ended up exactly where we needed to be.”