- The New Orleans Saints and Caesars Entertainment have announced a 20-year exclusive naming rights partnership.
- As a result of this deal, the Saints’ home stadium will be rebranded as the Caesars Superdome.
- The facility was originally known as the Louisiana Superdome but has been the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for nearly a decade.
Not that you really needed any more evidence that the sports business ecosystem is completely embracing the gaming industry and the revenue potential they bring but this is an extremely high profile manifestation of that trend. On Monday, the New Orleans Saints and Caesars Entertainment announced a 20-year exclusive naming rights partnership that will see the NFL team’s home field rebranded as the ‘Caesars Superdome’. Word of this partnership originally made the media rounds in March but it apparently took longer than expected to finalize.
The Louisiana Superdome opened in 1975 culminating a design and construction process that took the better part of a decade. The original plans for the venue were drawn up by renowned design firm Curtis and Davis Architects and Engineers in 1967 and the 73,000 seat venue held a dedication ceremony with entertainment by jazz musicians Al Hirt and Pete Fountain on August 3, 1975. The concept behind the Superdome dates back to an idea germinated by USFL founder David Dixon in the mid-1960s as a means of luring a NFL franchise to New Orleans. The genesis was NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle asserting that the league wouldn’t expand to the city without a domed stadium.
Construction was constantly behind schedule and over budget but eventually it was completed–the New Orleans Saints opened the 1975 NFL season in the Superdome losing to the Cincinnati Bengals. Not coincidentally, the Saints’ temporary home at Tulane Stadium was condemned for demolition the same day the Superdome opened. The first prime time Super Bowl (Super Bowl XII) was held at the Superdome in January 1978 as the Dallas Cowboys beat the Miami Dolphins. The NFL has since hosted six more Super Bowls at the venue. Pro basketball wasn’t as successful–the New Orleans Jazz played four dismal seasons at the Superdome before finding a home and considerable success in Salt Lake City.
Oddly enough, as seemingly every other venue in the world was commercializing their naming rights the Superdome was a longtime holdout. The venue is owned by the state of Louisiana but the Saints’ lease gives them the authority to sell naming rights. It would be 36 years before that would happen–in 2011, Mercedes-Benz USA acquired the naming rights. In 2015, Mercedes-Benz signed a 27 year deal for naming rights to the new Atlanta NFL stadium though the amount of the deal was not made public. Several financial media sources put the value of the deal at $324 million USD. With that big price tag on Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the auto manufacturer decided not to renew the deal with the Saints for the Superdome naming rights which officially ended earlier this month.
Enter Caesars Entertainment–the gaming company has made New Orleans a focus in recent years and is in the process of renovating Harrah’s New Orleans, eventually to rebranded under the Caesars name. They’ve also emphasized charitable endeavors in New Orleans and Louisiana including $30 million USD in cash contributions. At the time Caesars announced the renovation/rebranding of their New Orleans property CEO Tom Reeg spoke of his company’s long history in the city:
“We are excited to introduce Caesars New Orleans to the city. As the only land-based gaming operator in the city, we take great pride in our 20-year history in New Orleans, and this reinvestment is a testament to our continued commitment.”
Officially, everyone involved was on the ‘QT’ until the end of Mercedes-Benz’s naming rights agreement. In today’s press release announcing the rebrand, Reeg once again spoke of Caesars being part of the city’s culture:
“All of us at Caesars are proud to be part of New Orleans’ vibrant culture. We understand that the Superdome is more than an iconic venue, it’s the symbol of a resilient and innovative community. We’ve had a strong relationship with the New Orleans Saints for nearly two decades and we are thrilled with the opportunity to strengthen it and celebrate our commitment to the city, the state, and the entire Gulf Coast region.”
Saints’ owner Gayle Benson spoke glowingly about Caesars Entertainment in her press release quote:
“This partnership sends a strong message about the positive future for the New Orleans Saints, Caesars Entertainment, and the entire state of Louisiana. That message states that companies with the global reach of Caesars Entertainment is investing in our city, state and region. Caesars has long been one of the world’s most respected entertainment companies. Caesars is in the midst of creating a first-class multi-million dollar entertainment facility in downtown New Orleans, this significant investment also demonstrates the strength of their commitment to our state and region. We are proud to partner with a company that is dedicated to the economic growth of our city, state and region.”
In what may be an all-time record for press release quotes a whole host of local political parasites from Governor John Bel Edwards lined up to offer a pointless soundbite. The only other relevant quote was from Saints President Dennis Lauscha:
“In addition to being one of the world’s premier entertainment operators, the investment Caesars Entertainment is making into its downtown property that is being transformed into Caesars New Orleans will create an impact that will be felt throughout our entire state and region for many years. Caesars is a great partner for the Saints and the region, as they are investing $325 million into their downtown facility, while at the same time, significant work and investment is being made into making our playing facility state-of-the-art not only for Saints football, but multiple major events that benefit the entire community. In 2009, when the Saints and State reached their new agreement, the team took on the responsibility of selling the naming rights to the Superdome; a model that has resulted in no lease generated general fund requests from the State. The team has brought two iconic global brands in Mercedes-Benz and now Caesars Entertainment to this state-owned building. This agreement represents a tremendous opportunity for the New Orleans Saints franchise and further entrenches Caesars Entertainment as one of the region’s leading and dedicated corporate citizens.”
If you’re a masochist and want to read the prattling of the Governor along with a laundry list of other state and local officials you can do so here:
You can even ‘experience’ an interactive Multichannel News Release here:
At the time the story first broke back in March the word on the street was that Caesars would pay just under $11 million USD per year for twenty years for the Superdome naming rights. I’ll make the rounds of the sports business media and see if I can find out more of the backstory.