On Thursday, it was reported (by Sports Business Daily) that United Airlines would pay the USC Trojans over $70 million for 15 years of naming rights on the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The average payout per year of $4.7 million would be the most lucrative naming rights deal in NCAA history, surpassing the one the Washington Huskies signed with Alaska Airlines for $4.1 million per year.
USC’s deal is big for numerous reasons: A) The Trojans are among the biggest brands in college sports, B) They play in the center of the second-largest media market in the country and C) The NFL’s Los Angeles Rams will also call the Coliseum home through 2019 -- adding extra bang for United’s buck.
We can debate how much the Rams really matter to all of this. But if you’re signing a 15-year deal with a prominent college program AND three of those seasons include an NFL team that’s on national television every weekend? It’s probably worth forking over a little extra. USC’s ability to get on TV is also worth more than most schools’. If you count the Pac-12 Network as “national,” every Trojans game appeared on linear TV around the country last year. You could say the same about most seasons for them.
This is the long way of getting to the lingering issue for the Syracuse Orange and its current stadium sponsor. We all know that SU signed the worst deal in the history of sports marketing when they handed Carrier permanent naming rights in 1980 (the first year of the building). With the renovation discussion front-and-center in recent years, one of the bigger points of contention has been getting out of the Carrier contract.
Assuming Syracuse can actually pull this off -- likely by replacing the inflatable dome roof with a hardtop -- how much can they actually get a sponsor to pay for the new naming rights?
Beyond the renovation itself, that’s the biggest issue facing Orange athletics right now. USC just signed that insane deal above, but we all know that’s far removed from what SU can make with a stadium sponsor. Even with four sports (football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s lacrosse) calling the venue home, all of those don’t equal USC’s cachet, Los Angeles and the national prominence of the Coliseum.
Still, there’s evidence that the team could still fetch a decent amount on the open market.
New Mexico just signed away the rights to two separate buildings -- football and basketball -- to local home renovation company Dreamstyle. They’ll pay $10 million for 10 years of naming rights on both.
TDECU put its name on just Houston’s football stadium for $15 million over 10 years back in 2014.
Back in 2014, the average annual value of a college venue sponsorship (for one venue) was just over $900,000 dollars. For a basketball venue, that number was just under $1 million, while it was less than $850,000 per year for a football venue. USC, Washington and Houston’s numbers sort of change that conversation a bit.
Which is how we get to Syracuse and its current issue.
Now there aren’t a lot of “local” sponsors that can pony up. But just look at UNM. That didn’t seem to hurt them over in Albuquerque.
If I had to bet, given Syracuse’s relative athletic prominence, having four teams in the venue and enough national TV exposure between them — especially when the ACC Network launches -- it’s probably enough to grab between $1.5 million and $2 million per year on a 10-year deal.
That could be lofty based on recent studies of what the Dome could fetch. But even something in the $1 million to $1.5 million range would be leaps and bounds above what we’re getting now (an average of close to $75,000 per year).
Now let’s get out of this Carrier deal first, and THEN we can talk money.