Want your name in lights?

DANIEL ADAMS
Last updated 16:30 13/09/2012
CASH COWS: Waikato Stadium, above, and Claudelands Arena, not pictured, could generate up to $7 million in a 10-year deal according to one marketing expert.
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CASH COWS: Waikato Stadium, above, and Claudelands Arena, not pictured, could generate up to $7 million in a 10-year deal according to one marketing expert.

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Council puts venue naming rights up for sale in attempt to generate millions in cash, Daniel Adams reports.

Waikato corporate juggernaut Tainui has ruled out an interest in naming rights for the region's major stadia.

But Tainui Group Holdings chief executive Mike Pohio has applauded Hamilton City Council for its move.

The council is looking to raise millions of dollars by selling the naming rights to the home of the Chiefs, Waikato Stadium, and the Claudelands Events Centre.

With existing pacts for the major stands at the Chiefs' home ground now lapsed, and Claudelands in need of a $450,000 injection for air conditioning in its exhibition halls, staff have gone to the market to see whether millions of dollars can be pumped into depleted city coffers.

Mr Pohio said he believed the initiative was a responsible way for the council to try and realise a return on its assets.

City council events and economic development general manager Sean Murray told the Waikato Times he was still investigating any interest, but confirmed talks have been held, including after unsolicited approaches.

Mr Murray said he was confident that given time naming rights deals could be secured, but he expected that he would know by December whether anything could be achieved within the current financial year.

Claudelands' location added potential value because of its visibility.

"We're not very advanced, we're having talks to people but these things can take a lot of time. They're obviously quite confidential, so we're just all at a mutual sniffing phase at this stage. I've had a few people approach and say they're interested, but don't want to engage just yet," said Mr Murray.

"There's a couple of local, and a couple of nationally-based businesses."

"Anything we do would protect the name of the venue," said Mr Murray.

Resort Brokers naming rights broker Murray Stott said it would make sense to sell the rights to Waikato Stadium and Claudelands Events Centre as a package.

He estimated a 10-year naming rights contract for both could fetch $7 million, at $700,000 per year.

Mr Stott said any deal would likely come with "warm and fuzzies" thrown in, such as free tickets and access to corporate boxes.

King St Advertising managing director Chris Williams said a long-term deal for the rights to Waikato Stadium could attract a seven-figure total.

"From my point of view, for the right sponsor it would be a good investment," he said.

"It's all about having your brand associated with the right kind of thing."

Councillor Dave Macpherson said he didn't want to see Seddon Park naming rights sold but he believed an improving economic situation boded well for Claudelands Events Centre, and particularly Waikato Stadium.

He had heard "around the traps" that Claudelands might be worth between $500,000 and one million, depending on the length of the deal, but he admitted the market was largely unknown: "I think we'd get a premium on the stadium above Claudelands because of television coverage there".

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Gallagher Group corporate services executive Margaret Comer, who is responsible for company sponsorship, doubted it would be interested.

"I wouldn't see much value really in naming rights. It's a very, very bad time to be selling that in the current economic climate. It would have to be a very good deal, I would say, for an organisation to look at it," she said.

Hamilton has a history of being fickle with naming rights deals for its much-loved sporting venues, repeatedly casting aside deals in the past.

Known as Seddon Park since 1906, Hamilton's major cricket ground became Trustbank Park in 1990, WestpacTrust Park in 1997 and then Westpac Park. The 1990 sponsorship deal caused an outcry among fans, and resulted in one Trustbank Park sign being felled with a chainsaw. When Westpac's deal ended in 2005, council took the chance for a clean stadium, egged on by champions of New Zealand cricketing heritage.

A $2m, 10-year naming rights deal offered by Genesis Energy for the then new Waikato Stadium, considered in early 2002 by Wel Energy Trust and the council, was rejected because the trust's $8.1m contribution barred naming rights.

That stance was revoked after the deal was withdrawn. A year later, when cost overruns on the stadium reached $6 million, an agreement was struck between former Perry Group head Brian Perry and council under which Mr Perry became liable for $2 million, and was given lounge and gate naming rights to sell estimated to be worth $1.1m.

- Waikato Times

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