With Safeco Insurance set to end its agreement with the team, the Seattle Mariners will search for a new naming rights partner for Safeco Field.
As announced on Tuesday, the naming rights agreement for Safeco Field will not be extended after it expires following the 2018 season. In the announcement, the Mariners noted that they were beginning preliminary discussions with prospective naming rights partners for the ballpark.
While the team will have some time to strike an agreement, there is already some discussion taking place of what a new a naming rights deal will look like. The original Safeco Field contract reportedly paid the Mariners $40 million over 20 years, and it is reasonable to expect that the team will find a new long-term naming rights agreement at a solid figure, according to Thomas Wills, the president and CEO of Bonham/Wills and Associates. More from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
With a strong market presence, the Mariners should be able to set the terms of any prospective deal after a valuation period, then choose a small group of finalists and enter into exclusive negotiations with one of their choosing, Wills said. He expects the next naming rights contract to run roughly as long as the M’s agreement with Safeco, but unlike that deal, which paid the club a reported $40 million over 20 years, the new contract could pay the team upwards of $5 million per season, perhaps even up to $10 million.
“The Mariners will be looking for the longest term possible,” he said. “I’m thinking it will be probably minimum 15 (years), but possibly up to 25.”
The team is looking for a new partner at a good time after naming rights revenues plummeted following the 2008 financial crisis. Wills expects prices to peak in 2019 as new facilities become available, perhaps even approaching the $400 million CitiBank agreed to pay the New York Mets in 2006 only to receive over $476 billion in cash and guarantees from the U.S. government during the financial downturn.
Safeco Insurance and the Mariners originally agreed to their naming rights partnership in June 1998, about one year before Safeco Field opened during the 1999 season.
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