ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) — A new era starts at New Era Field as the Bills shut out the Giants at their first game in the newly named stadium. They’re not the only team with a new stadium name this season. Fewer teams now than ever before hold the naming rights to their stadiums.
The Bills removed themselves from that list last week when they announced their $35 million, 7-year agreement with New Era. Days later, the Dolphins changed their naming rights becoming Hard Rock Stadium.
Only seven teams remain: Green Bay Packers, Oakland Raiders, L.A. Rams, Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals, Chicago Bears. As of the time of publishing, the Broncos are back on the list after Sports Authority filed for bankruptcy and could no longer make payments on their deal for Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium.
“It was bound to happen,” said Nellie Drew, a sports law adjunct professor at the University at Buffalo. “As there are more opportunities to develop revenue, this just seems like the next logical step.”
She explains naming rights offer an opportunity for a company to tie their brand loyalty to a team. The professor says there isn’t much more commercialism that can happen around the league.
“It is a business,” said Drew. “While we tend not to think of it that way and it is a special business, it’s still a business.”
Drew says there are wrong ways and right ways to switch over naming rights and points to what the Pegulas are doing as the right way.
“It wasn’t a crass money grab,” said the professor. “It was a nicely done transaction where they reached out to a local company, with local ownership who has ties to the franchise and the league.”
Drew was born and raised in the Buffalo area and remains a diehard Bills fan. She believes a name on the stadium doesn’t take away from what happens every game day.
“I don’t think the memories are tied so much to the name as they are to the experience, the heritage, we all share,” said Drew. “That isn’t specific to facility or name of the facility – it’s about the Bills.”