Stadium naming rights are an impressively large revenue stream for teams in the “big four” sports in the United States as well as for soccer teams overseas. The teams benefit from these agreements by receiving aid to pay off construction costs of stadiums, hefty player salaries, and any other expense that their hearts desire. In exchange, the companies that plaster their names on sports properties benefit from media exposure and a greater association with the team and its fan base. The lucrative nature of these naming rights over the years has grown enormous and more recently, Major League Soccer has seen an influx of shirt sponsorship and stadium sponsorship deals that has increased the corporate presence throughout the league. From a positive perspective, the league is growing more European in its resemblance thanks to this new business activity.
Of the 20 franchises in Major League Soccer, 11 of them are benefiting from naming rights deals for their stadiums. Some teams are in stadiums with corporate names, but do not see any significant profit due to different circumstances (i.e. The New York Red Bulls in Red Bull Arena or the New England Revolution as tenants in Gillette Stadium). Here are the available details regarding each of the current MLS stadium naming rights deals:
A general pattern seems to be deals where the naming company pays around $2 million per year to have their name on the stadium. While this figure definitely helps with costs, it is nothing compared to NFL stadiums.
The most colossal naming rights agreement in NFL history occurred in 2010 with the naming of MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. Under the deal, MetLife pays the New York Giants and the New York Jets $400 million over 25 years. Out of the 32 teams in the NFL, 25 teams play in branded stadiums, possibly 26 with the new Minnesota Vikings stadium set to open soon. One of the least profitable naming rights deals in the NFL is the agreement between the Jacksonville Jaguars to name EverBank Stadium for $16.5 million over 5 years (starting in 2010) averaging $3.3 million per year. Considering the age and scope of the league, MLS is not expected to rival the NFL in terms of corporate sponsorship. However, these figures are a good measuring stick for the MLS to strive towards in the future.