The San Francisco 49ers and team President and CEO Jed York have scored a $220 million naming rights deal that’s the first one in the San Francisco Bay Area to actually reflect the true value of such partnerships in the region.
According to The San Francisco 49ers, Levi Strauss & Co. plans to present to the Santa Clara Stadium Authority a proposal for a 20-year, $220 million naming rights agreement for “Levi’s Stadium” later today, Thursday, May 9th.
This is exciting on so many levels. In the past, San Francisco Bay Area sports venue naming rights deals have been small, with the best one being the 15-year, $47 million agreement to call the San Jose Sharks arena “HP Pavilion.” (Something HP wants out of because of its budget woes.)
The worst deals have been at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Stadium. The Network Associates naming rights deal in 1998 was just about $10 million, and over a decade later, the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum Authority failed to improve on that in negotiating with O.co for a new stadium deal. And the Oracle naming rights deal to brand the home of the Golden State Warriors, while not publicly disclosed, is known to reliable sources as at $30 million over 10 years.
Meanwhile, as far back as 1998, the market value of a naming rights deal in the San Francisco Bay Area was said to be $80 million.
That means the The San Francisco 49ers, Levi Strauss & Co naming rights deal, one that was formed by CAA Sports on behalf of the organization, is the first to actually not only meet, but surpass the estimated market value of such a deal for the Bay Area.
Is it the largest in California? No. That award goes to the $700 millon deal to name the as yet not even ground-broken Farmers Field in Downtown Los Angeles – the largest in history (and as a note, any quote you see of the deal at $600 million is wrong). And while some media types think the deal is dead, and seem to have wanted to kill it, the reality is that it’s alive until AEG and the City and County of Los Angeles say otherwise.
San Francisco’s Success Sheds Bad Light On Oakland
Last year, when I went over to cover the Golden State Warriors party to announce their plans to leave Oakland for a desired dream-of-a-facility at Pier 32 on the San Francisco waterfront side of the Bay, Warriors owner Joe Lacob made a comments that his problem was that Oakland lacked leadership. Witness:
Now, after today’s announcement, the hot light of questioning must be cast on Oakland. My city has long bragged of having three sports teams: the Oakland Raiders, Golden State Warriors, and the Oakland A’s. But with those organizations, Oakland has nothing to show for its riches in any way.
Even in the case of the process of upgrading the Coliseum Stadium for the Oakland Raiders, I told the City of Oakland’s Economic Development Committee in 1997 that they changes were only part of what was needed to make the venue a true state-of-the-art facility. The statement I made then-Oakland Councilmember, and now Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley hit the ceiling. “Zennie,” he said, “we just upgraded the stadium for the Raiders” (which had left LA for Oakland in 1995). Now you’re telling me it’s not enough.
My answer was that it wasn’t. I was also not the architect of that deal.
But since those heady days where Oakland was at least doing something to improve its sports infrastructure, the more recent history has been one of discord between the teams and the “East Bay Entities” – Oakland and Alameda County.
Now, here’s San Francisco, getting its sports business deals done, and in competent fashion. While I hold that its the responsibility of the sports owner to lead the charge in providing civic leadership, there has to be a mayor and set of elected officials equally ready to lead, and then doing so. From today’s events, I’m grudgingly forced to admit that Lacob may have a point.
Oakland needs to get its collective sports business act together.