The Minnesota Vikings are in the process of building a new stadium, and there is now word on the naming rights for the facility. Minneapolis-based U.S. Bank has purchased the rights, at a cost of $220 million over 25 years. The new stadium is scheduled to open in 2016, and later host Super Bowl LII in February 2018.
I bring this up because of the potential comparison with Levi's Stadium. The San Francisco 49ers new facility sold naming rights to San Francisco-based Levi Strauss & Co. for $220 million as well, but over 20 years. The U.S. Bank deal averages $8.8 million per year, while the Levi Strauss deal averages $11 million per year.
At the end of the 20 years, Levi Strauss will have the option of extending the deal another five years for a total of $75 million. That would boost the average up to $15 million a year. The 20-year deal wraps up following the 2033 season, so it is hard to tell exactly where naming rights prices will sit at that point. $15 million per year could be a bargain, or companies could decide naming rights are not worth eight figure per year investments.
The city of San Francisco dealt with all sorts of issues when it came time to sell naming rights to Candlestick Park back in the 90s. The city sold the rights to 3Com Corporation for somewhere between $500,000 and $900,000 per year. I say "somewhere between" because I have seen different numbers around the Internet. The deal expired after the 2002 season and the name changed to San Francisco Stadium at Candlestick Point.
Monster Cable purchased naming rights in 2004, paying $6 million over four years. A ballot provision later that fall scheduled the name to revert back to Candlestick Park when the Monster deal expired.
There is a long way to go before the Levi Strauss naming rights deal expires down in Santa Clara. It is certainly possible Levi Strauss could be purchased at some point in the future, but ideally they remain an independent company. Naming rights can often be a tricky business with stadiums frequently attached to a random company simply because it was the highest bidder.
Whether Levi Strauss was the highest bidder or not, it has the long-time Bay Area connection that at least makes it a reasonable option. I am still a little surprised they did not get a deal with a Silicon Valley company, but I can very much live with Levi's Stadium as a name.