There's been a big shift in corporate marketing strategies over the past 20 years. These days, you're a nobody if you don't have a major arena or sports stadium named after your company. Take, for instance, the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who call Raymond James Stadium home. Tampa Bay is just one of 49 professional sports teams whose playing fields have corporate names attached to them. Why do companies do this? Because it gets their names in news reports to wide-ranging audiences.
Most of the time the money involved makes the name game a win-win-win for local governments, sports teams, and the sponsors themselves. However, animosity can arise, as it apparently has in Denver.
There, Denver-based Invesco Funds has agreed to pay $120 million over 20 years to have its name attached to the new Mile High stadium. However, The Denver Post, the city's most widely read newspaper, has decided not to use the name Invesco Field in reference to the newly completed football, soccer, and concert stadium where the NFL's Denver Broncos will play.
Denver Post Editor Glen Guzzo says the paper will routinely use the phrase "Mile High" stadium. However, Guzzo says, "We will use Invesco Field at Mile High, which is the name that was purchased by Invesco Funds, [only] when it is necessary for clarity such as reference to signage, reference to the naming rights controversy, in legal documents, and in direct quotes from people. So it's not like we are banning the name Invesco Field."
Needless to say, Invesco Funds is not very pleased with the decision. While media officials at Invesco did not return numerous phone calls seeking comment on the controversy, they did issue a brief statement: "It's unfortunate that The Denver Post has decided to not accurately report the name. There was a dedication Monday, August 6 . . . naming the new structure as INVESCO Field at Mile High and [Colorado] Governor Owens has proclaimed the name as such. We are extremely excited about the new home of the Denver Broncos and we believe that when the fans have an opportunity to experience this new facility, they will agree."
Guzzo, on the other hand, feels the Post's editorial decision reflects the will of the people. "This is really the public's language. When folks talk about the new stadium they talk about the new Mile High, or the new stadium. They almost never say Invesco Field unless they are talking about the controversy."
With Denver already home to the Pepsi Center for hockey's Colorado Avalanche and basketball's Denver Nuggets, and Coors Field for baseball's Colorado Rockies, it would seem the Denver media has already accepted corporate sponsorship of sporting venues. But Guzzo doesn't look at it that way. He breaks it down to a matter of money and pride.
"Public tax money paid for 75% of the new stadium," Guzzo says. "The stadium was almost entirely built before Invesco ever stepped up with a dollar. Some people feel like they've built this with their own [taxpayers'] money and now Invesco wants to own it for a lot less money."
Of the $120 million that Invesco will pay for the naming rights, $60 million goes to the Broncos and $60 million goes to the Denver Metropolitan Football Stadium District, which built the stadium, in the form of tax relief.