Naming rights are in play for the Titans' proposed new $2.1 billion domed stadium – The Business Journals

If the Tennessee Titans win approval for a new domed stadium, the $2.1 billion facility won’t automatically bear the name of the team’s current home.
Nissan sponsors Nashville’s existing NFL stadium on the riverfront opposite downtown, in a sponsorship that began seven years ago. Nissan spokesman Brian Brockman confirmed to the Business Journal that the agreement applies only to the current stadium, and that a new stadium would require a new naming rights deal.
The ability to enter a new naming rights agreement, whether the Titans ultimately choose Nissan or another business, is one of the money-making opportunities the team would be poised to tap into — if Metro Council approves the proposal for a new stadium, which would be built on the parking lots between the current one and the downtown interstate loop.
The team and Nissan have never disclosed the car company’s annual payment, though at the time the agreement was cemented in 2015, analysts estimated it could be worth about $5 million annually. Nissan signed a 20-year agreement with the Titans.
That annual value could rise by millions per year under a new deal, given Nashville’s new national profile and the potential of a domed stadium to entice a few of the highest-profile sporting events at least once — including the NFL’s Super Bowl as well as college football and basketball national championship games.
The price of naming rights varies widely. Some of the more recent NFL deals have ranged from $8 million a year to $12 million a year in cities such as Atlanta, Minneapolis and Pittsburgh, according to various media reports. Levi Strauss & Co. (NYSE: LEVI) is paying $20 million a year for the naming rights to the San Francisco 49ers stadium, which opened in 2014.
Victor Matheson, a sports economist at The College of the Holy Cross, said the Titans might be able to fetch as much as $15 million a year in naming rights payments for the proposed domed stadium. Another sports economist, Michael Leeds of Temple University, pegged the possible range at $10 million to $15 million a year.
Nissan’s North American headquarters is in Cool Springs, and the company has an enormous factory in Smyrna that dates back about 40 years. Those two sites employ more than 8,500 people.
“We are proud that Nissan Stadium has been a centerpiece of the downtown skyline since 2015,” Brockman said in a statement. “We greatly value our partnership with the Tennessee Titans and look forward to its continuation in the future.”
Kate Guerra, a spokeswoman for the Titans, said: “We view them as a critical partner and are continuously engaging them in ongoing dialogue regarding the future of the relationship.”
The Titans’ current lease with Metro allows the team to keep all sponsorship money. That would remain the same under the proposed lease terms with Metro for a new stadium, Guerra said.
Of the proposed stadium’s $2.1 billion price tag, $760 million would come from bonds issued by the Metro Sports Authority, according to details released earlier this week. According to the proposal, annual debt payments and annual maintenance would be paid for through a 1% tax on hotel room bookings in Davidson County, all sales taxes collected at the stadium and half of sales taxes from activity in a yet-to-be-designated 130-acre footprint surrounding the stadium. The Titans would pay for any maintenance that tax revenue couldn’t cover.
Another $500 million would come from the state, while the remaining $840 million would come from the Titans — including an anticipated loan from the NFL — as well as the sale of personal seat licenses (more on those PSLs here).
Forbes values the Titans franchise at $3.5 billion, the sixth-smallest of the NFL’s 32 teams. The Titans’ valuation rose 33% in a year, according to Forbes, which put its operating income at $114.6 million.
“It is a very elite club, to be an owner of a sports franchise,” Leeds said. “And if you can’t be an owner of a major league sports franchise, what is the next best thing? It’s maybe to see your company’s name on the stadium they play at.”
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