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Financial Details Emerge on Guaranteed Rate Field


Financial details are out on the Chicago White Sox‘s naming rights partnership with Guaranteed Rate Field, providing insight into the agreement’s actual value. 

Announced last week, the naming rights agreement is set to take effect after this season. In the interim, the ballpark is still known as U.S. Cellular Field, a moniker that resulted from a 2003 deal.

The financial terms of the White Sox’s agreement with Guaranteed Rate were not disclosed at the time of announcement, but they are now public. Through records from the ballpark’s owner, the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority (ISFA), it has been discovered that Guaranteed Rate will pay a lower annual fee than U.S. Cellular to put its name on the ballpark. More from Crain’s Chicago Business:

Under the 13-year agreement announced last week that renames the South Side ballpark Guaranteed Rate Field on Nov. 1, the Sox will get $20.4 million over the next 10 years for naming rights, or about $2 million per year, Illinois Sports Facilities Authority records show.

That compares to the $3.4 million that U.S. Cellular paid the team on average per year since it bought naming rights to the park in 2003 for a 20-year term.

It is also substantially less than the average fee for naming rights to MLB venues. Including U.S. Cellular Field, the 20 Major League Baseball parks that have naming rights partners pull in an average of $4.4 million per year from those deals, according to data from Chicago-based sponsorship trend research group IEG.

Removing the outlier that is Citi Field in New York, where the bank pays $20 million per year to put its name on the Mets’ stadium, that average is reduced to $3.6 million per year.

The case of Guaranteed Rate Field differs from some of the naming rights agreements found elsewhere in MLB. Since the ballpark’s opening in 1991, it has had two previous names–beginning with Comiskey Park–making Guaranteed Rate Field its third identity. Furthermore, U.S. Cellular paid an undisclosed amount on a buyout to get out of the agreement, which was to run through 2022. As Crain’s noted, the deal was ceased, in part, because of U.S. Cellular’s diminishing presence in the Chicago area.

As is standard with many naming rights deals, Guaranteed Rate is making additional commitments that include sponsorship and promotional opportunities. Those agreements are with the White Sox, and no financial terms from deals beyond the naming rights have been released.

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