Louisiana Superdome (Photo by Phil Roeder is licensed under CC BY 2.0)
Louisiana lawmakers agreed Thursday (July 22) to let the New Orleans Saints change the name of the Superdome to “Ceasars Superdome” — after the Caesars Entertainment casinos and gambling company — for the next 20 years. The new name will be on the building before the Saints first preseason game Aug. 23, according to documents given to lawmakers.
The Saints and Caesars Entertainment told state lawmakers Thursday that the naming rights deal will produce $138 million for the football franchise over the next two decades, but the parties are keeping the details of the contract a secret.
A handout given to lawmakers by the Saints and Caesars Entertainment said the terms of their agreement will “remain undisclosed.” Representatives from the companies also asked legislators not to ask questions about the financial arrangements at the public hearing on the name change.
The Saints and Caesars said sharing the specifics of the contract would put the Saints at a disadvantage relative to other NFL franchises. The league’s teams don’t share information about such arrangements publicly.
“While the team wishes to be fully transparent, and respects [the lawmakers] questions about the financial terms, the team ask [sic] that the financial terms remain confidential and not put in the public domain,” stated the handout given to lawmakers.
If the Saints organization asks the state for direct funding support in the future, the state would be able to audit the arrangement between the Saints and Caesars Entertainment to make sure the Saints were collecting all the money Caesars owes the team. The requirement is unlikely to kick in though, since the Saints have not asked for this type of direct state funding in a decade.
The Superdome’s current naming rights and logo contract with Mercedes-Benz ends this month. That arrangement lasted 10 years and was supposedly worth between $50 million and $60 million — though the details of that contract were also kept private. The “Mercedes-Benz” lettering has already been removed from the outside of the sports’ arena.
The city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana will not receive any direct funding as a result of the Caesars Entertainment deal, but the Saints have pledged to use the money received from Caesars to repair and upgrade the Superdome.
Legislators have some say over the Superdome’s naming rights and logo deal because the it is a public facility owned by the state. State law requires the Legislature’s Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget to approve any name and logo change.
Sen. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, raised some concerns with the proposed “Caesars Superdome” logo that will appear on the building. She found the use of two fonts in the lettering to be “gaudy and cartoonish” and asked if the parties could streamline the branding. Caesars Entertainment and Saints’ representatives at the meeting said they would look at tweaking the design.
The Saints said they engaged in a “worldwide search to find the perfect corporate partner” for their naming rights and logo deal, but Caesars is an understandable fit for the Superdome. The company owns and operates New Orleans’ only casino, Harrah’s, located a few blocks away from the arena.
The Saints and Caesars also share the same Louisiana state government lobbyist. Randy Haynie’s client list includes the New Orleans football team and the casino company as well as the NFL, Pelicans and the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, which helps attract majoring sports events to the city. Haynie was present Thursday for the lawmakers’ vote on the Superdome name change.
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