Heinz Field has been Heinz Field for as long as there has been a field inside of the stadium to walk upon. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Heinz agreed to a 20-year partnership for the naming rights of the new stadium in 2001.
But as you may gather, it has been nearly 20 years since then, meaning that the original arrangement between the team and the major local brand is running its course, and there is some speculation as to whether or not that arrangement will be renewed.
Mark Belko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette dove into this topic recently, interviewing some industry experts who agreed that it would be foolish for the company—now Kraft Heinz since 2015 following a corporate merger—to pass up on the national advertising the naming rights for the stadium of one of the biggest franchises in the country would bring.
“I suspect a lot of people would be surprised Kraft Heinz does not do this. It’s a layup for them”, he quoted Marc Ganis as saying. Ganis is the president of a sports business consulting firm in Chicago, where Kraft is headquartered.
He also suggested that Heinz’s original deal with the Steelers was below market value, perhaps substantially so, and that that is because the organization doesn’t seek to maximize its profits, but rather heavily weighs other considerations into their business deals as well.
“The Steelers have historically forgone maximizing the amount of revenue they can get for a sponsorship deal”, he said “in exchange for branding, community considerations, and people they want to partner with. It’s rare those three go together with the highest dollar amount”.
Still, while the company can likely get a favorable deal from the Steelers for the naming rights—one would imagine they would prefer to retain the same name and relationship rather than seeking a new partner—they have not had the greatest last couple of years, either.
I actually touched on the possibility of a naming rights change a couple of months ago in an article about the team’s petition to the city zoning board to create an indoor ‘sign’ within the stadium in the seating.
While the Steelers presented a preliminary plan as to what the sign would look like in concept, they had no concrete notion of what it might say. That could be contingent upon what the stadium’s name is two years from now.