DENVER - Remember when we told you that the Colorado Rockies are two weeks away from being evicted? (Spoiler alert: the team and the district that oversees Coors Field are working on a new lease agreement.)
Part of that story about the Rockies' 22-year lease ending, also had a little nugget you might not have known: Coors does not pay for naming rights on Coors Field.
That's right, Coors has what might be the best naming rights deal in the history of naming rights deals.
When Major League Baseball selected Denver to have a National League expansion team, Coors contributed $30 million, $15 million of that was to put the Coors name on the future baseball-only stadium, that ended up at 20th and Blake Streets.
The deal with Coors gave them the naming rights "in perpetuity," meaning for life, for no more money. At the time of that deal in the early 90s, sponsored stadium names were still in its infancy.
While the Rockies got $15 million to call their stadium "Coors Field" when it opened in 1995, old Mile High Stadium was still Mile High Stadium and old Pepsi Center was still McNichols Sports Arena.
Sponsor names on stadiums generally helps pay for maintenance and upgrades. The Rockies commissioned a report in late 2015 to determine the future of Coors Field. The report determined that it would cost about $194 million to provide capital improvements to the stadium over 30 years. More or less, the Rockies need about $7 million a year for 30 years.
"There's going to have to be a way to figure out how to fund stadium upkeep because we do not have the luxury of a new naming rights agreement," said Metropolitan State University Marketing Professor Darrin Duber-Smith. "They're either going to have to raise ticket prices or take less profits or they're going to have to find a creative way to finance this whole thing. It really sounds like they're just trying to make it a creative way to make it so that the fans really don't have to pay for this."
We went to the sports marketing professor to find out just how much Coors is getting for free in 2017 dollars.
"Baseball stadiums don't tend to fetch as much money, for some reason, as football stadiums, maybe between $2-$3 million a year, and then you'd probably sign a deal for 20 to 25 years," said Duber-Smith.
The Denver Broncos sold the naming rights to the new Mile High Stadium to Invesco in 2001. Over 20 years, Invesco was supposed to be $120 million. The stadium district that manages the stadium would receive $60 million, money that would be put back in the stadium for upgrades. Invesco sold the naming rights to Sports Authority in 2011. Before Sports Authority declared bankruptcy, there was still $20 million left to be paid to the district. The Broncos bought the naming rights back in bankruptcy court and are actively pursuing a new stadium sponsor.
"It really makes no sense that a football stadium with 10 games would fetch more money than a baseball stadium with 81 games," said Duber-Smith. "I would say the NFL probably has more brand equity than MLB."
In the original version of the story, we left out the amount of money the Broncos as a team received in naming rights. Mile High's name was sold for $120 million over 20 years, with half of that to go to the stadium district to spend on maintenance and upgrades. Of that $60 million, the stadium district has only received $40 million.
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