EJ Narcise, Principal at Team Services, was featured in a very interesting article in The Oregonian as a naming rights expert. Check out the article below.
Moda Health says its arena partnership with Blazers is solid
Even as Moda Health Plan Inc. cuts back and fights for its survival, the company says it has every intention of remaining the Trail Blazers’ stadium naming rights partner.
Less certain is Moda’s jersey sponsorship for the Seattle Reign of the National Women’s Soccer League or its partnership with the Seattle Seahawks for NFL Play 60, a league-wide effort to encourage children to play.
Moda, which is based in Portland, announced Wednesday it was pulling out of the Washington and California state health insurance markets. The company has suffered two consecutive years of losses, a depletion of capital and heightened regulatory scrutiny after an aggressive push into new insurance markets mandated by the Affordable Care Act. It will continue to do business in Oregon and Alaska.
A Moda executive earlier this week said the company was committed to its partnership with the Blazers.
“Moda is not considering any changes to our agreement with the Trail Blazers, including the naming rights for the Moda Center,” Moda executive vice president Steve Wynne said in an email. “We have built a great strategic relationship with the Blazers that we anticipate will extend well into the future.”
Blazers president Chris McGowan also expressed confidence with the Moda partnership.
“They’ve given us a heads-up this is going on,” McGowan said.”Other than that, we haven’t had lengthy conversations.”
With its withdrawal from the Washington insurance market, Moda’s sponsorships in that state – with the Reign and the Seahawks — might be unnecessary going forward.
Moda spokesman Jonathan Nicholas said in an emailed statement: “We do not divulge the terms of our sponsorship contracts out of respect for our business partners. I can tell you that our current initiatives with the Seahawks are part of our integrated community investments with the Blazers. We anticipate no changes, but obviously we are constantly evolving the multitude of programs under that umbrella.”
Moda announced its 10-year stadium naming rights partnership with the Trail Blazers on Aug. 13, 2013. While neither the company nor the team have commented about the terms, it reportedly totaled $40 million. In addition to placing its name on the former Rose Garden, Moda’s name also appears throughout the arena, including the playing floor and center court hanging scoreboard. TriMet and the Oregon Department of Transportation changed directional signage to accommodate the partnership.
Moda became a “presenting partner” in April 2014 for the Seattle Reign, the inaugural season for the NWSL. Reign uniforms bear the Moda Health logo; the team plays its home games at “Moda Pitch at Memorial Stadium.”
A Reign spokesman said by email Friday morning that, “We have not heard from MODA if the recent news will impact their sponsorship of Seattle Reign FC.”
Since 2013, Moda and the Seattle Seahawks have co-sponsored “NFL Play 60” health awareness program for children. It’s one of two sponsorships that link Moda with billionaire Paul Allen, the Microsoft co-founder who owns the Seahawks and the Blazers.
A Seahawks spokesman did not respond to an email seeking comment about Moda’s sponsorship status.
The sports sponsorship landscape is littered with companies that were unable to complete the terms of their stadium naming rights agreements. Perhaps the most memorable is Enron Field, the name hung on the Houston Astros new baseball park until energy trader Enron collapsed in bankruptcy and disgraced executives in a morass of fraud.
Some other examples include the Baltimore Ravens’ home of PSINet Stadium, so named for the internet services company from 1999 to 2002, when the company filed for bankruptcy, and now named M&T Bank Stadium; or the Sacramento Kings’ stadium named Power Balance Pavilion from 2011 to 2012, when the fitness wristband company was in financial straits. The stadium is now called Sleep Train Arena; the New England Patriots’ home was called CMGI Field for two years, until 2002, until the dot-com bust forced the internet company to turn over naming rights to Gillette.
In the Enron deal, the Astros paid Enron $2.1 million so the company would relinquish its naming rights.
Now, “Most of these deals have the Enron clause,” to avoid such an eventuality, said E.J. Narcise, co-founder and Principal of Team Services, a Rockville, Maryland, consultant specializing in stadium and arena naming rights as well as corporate sponsorships.
The clause essentially gives more control to the entity holding the property and limits a naming rights holder from retaining and transferring naming rights.
If a company with naming rights were to be sold, Narcise said, “the (stadium) property has the rights to decide” who would be the subsequent naming rights partner.
– Allan Brettman, firstname.lastname@example.org