Twins ballpark to be named Target Fieldby Brandt Williams, Minnesota Public Radio
The new Twins Ballpark will be called Target Field. On Monday, the team announced that the Minnesota-based retailer will have exclusive naming rights to its 40,000-seat stadium and the adjacent outdoor plaza.
The dollar amount on the 25-year deal is not public. But sports business experts speculate that the Target deal will mean many millions for the Twins.
Minneapolis, Minn. — As the exclusive owner of the naming rights, Target will have what's called extensive brand presence. That's market-speak which means that visitors and television viewers will see lots of Target bullseyes inside and outside the stadium.
The Twins hope all those circles with dots inside them will translate into lots of dollar signs for the franchise.
Team spokesman Kevin Smith says naming rights is a new revenue source for the Twins.
"This is something the team has never had before, in playing at the Metrodome," Smith said. "We didn't have the naming rights opportunity. So it is a significant, financial boon for the team."
The Twins are also considering several other companies as founding level sponsors to bring in smaller payments. Smith says the team can use the increased income to pay higher salaries for players.
Target's agreement with the Twins will have a wider benefit. Target has the naming rights for the large outdoor plaza next to the ball park.
The plaza will be open to the public, even on non-game days and it will serve as a pedestrian bridge that will stretch over Second Ave., past the Target center and connect to busy First Ave.
Smith says Target's resources will help make the plaza more attractive.
"There's a base budget now that's in the project," Smith said. "But with this infusuion of the Target sponsorship funds for the plaza, we'll be able to upgrade that base-level funding and that's a good thing."
The team is contributing about one-third of the $500 million price tag for the stadium. The other two-thirds is being raised by a Hennepin County sales tax.
The Minnesota Ballpark Authority owns the stadium, but according to Dan Kenney, executive director, the team has to maintain it.
"They're responsible for maintaining a first-class operation and I'm sure that they will, but that's very expensive," Kenney said. "It's probably $12 to 15 million a year in maintenance and operation costs."
Professional sports teams like the Twins face other significant costs as well - like the high cost of athletes' salaries.
But one of the big advantages for the Twins, is that they get to keep all or a significant portion of the revenue generated in the ballpark, like concessions income and premiums for executive suites and club seating.
The team has nearly sold out all of its 55 executive suites that range in price from $90,000 to $200,000 per year.
Aron Kahn, a former reporter for the Pioneer Press, covered the Twins fight to get public financing for the stadium approved by the state legislature.
"One of the reasons why the Twins lusted, for so many years for a new stadium is that in the Metrodome they had to split their revenues with a lot of different sources," Kahn said.
Kahn, who also used to be a spokesman for a group of landowners which battled with Hennepin County over the price of the ballpark land, says naming rights deals are common and their values vary widely.
"Recently there was TCF bank stadium at the new University of Minnesota football stadium and that was $35 million spread out over several years," he said. "When the Xcel Arena went up in 2000, the best number we know is $75 to 80 million dollars over 25 years."
Right now, the most lucrative naming rights contract is between the New York Mets and Citigroup. Kahn says under that agreement, the Mets will get $20 million a year, for 20 years.
He says corporations base the amount of the contracts partly on the amount of anticipated exposure to television viewers and sports fans who come to the games.
But in the case of Target, Kahn says, there may be more to it.
"Well, they can attach their name to a beloved team, certainly beloved in the case of Minnesota and the upper Midwest," Kahn said. "Not necessarily beloved in southern California or New York, but Target has stores all over the place."
Target still also has a naming rights agreement with the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Target Center. That deal was reportedly inked in 1990 for about $19 million over 15 years.
- All Things Considered, 09/15/2008, 5:54 p.m.