Today is a special day. I’ve just published Royal Sponsorship’s first article in English language. Since I’m not a native English speaker please excuse any typos or grammatical disasters. But why is this article written in English? The answer is quite simple: this post is all about the naming right deal at Petco Park in San Diego and I think it’ll be a shame not to use local language to discuss this sponsorship. But please don’t nail me down on using local language only in future. It would be a certain challenge when writing about Chinese, French or even Bavarian sponsorships.

What is Petco Park…?

First of all: sorry to all my American readers – baseball stadiums are likely the least known sports venues outside of North America. Some people may have heard the names Yankee Stadium or Wrigley Field, but that’s it. And I too think that baseball is the most boring sport in the history of mankind – in concert with maybe cricket and synchronized swimming. But on the other hand I’m absolutely fascinated by the passion my US colleagues at TMP Worldwide speak about baseball. But back to my question: what is Petco Park…?

Petco Park opened in 2004 and is home to the San Diego Padres of Major League Baseball (MLB). The stadium replaced Qualcomm Stadium, which the Padres shared with the San Diego Chargers of the National Football League (NFL) and has a capacity of approx. 40,000 spectators. Prior to it’s creation, the area where the stadium is located in downtown had been home to mostly warehouses. Today, the Gaslamp Quarter and East Village neighborhood is home to businesses, restaurants, hotels, shopping and thousands of new residents. Skyscrapers have pushed San Diego’s skyline upward and surround the spacious Petco Park footprint.

The naming right deal

Petco Park is named after the San Diego-based pet supplies retailer Petco, which pays for the naming rights until 2026. That’s because Petco felt strongly enough about getting it’s name attached to a venue that would be in the national spotlight at least 81 times per year (more in a good season). Petco decided that having it’s brand associated with a beautiful stadium structure that had prime location in downtown San Diego in prominent sight of conventioneers and millions of annual visitors might be valuable from a marketing persoectuve. And they have decided to pay the Padres about $60 million over 22 years, making it one of the most expensive naming-rights deals for a baseball park at the time.

After more than a decade Petco Park means something locally and nationally, whether you strike up a conversation with visitors in town or travel around the country. There’s now brand equity for Petco, the Padres and the city of San Diego. Same as many sponsors (such as Coors, Miller, Busch, Chase, Citi, Citizens Bank, …) Petco is convinced that the sponsorship makes good business sense to place it’s name and brand on a MLB stadium. And I agree: the dollar value of this deals certainly has an impact on a number of levels. In this specific case the sponsored name Petco Park is not only well-know in the whole county, but also generated more than 1 billion mentions of Petco in the media, and more people applying for jobs at the company.

In a nutshell …

It has brought Petco on the map both locally and nationally and it’s cheaper in the long run than traditional media advertising – as long as you have to be committed for the long haul. Naming right deals are for sure not the right solution for companies looking to make their brands a household name in the next two years. Sponsorships like this are for companies that have a long history of success and see growth in the future. And well done Petco – today the same sponsorship package would be a hell more expensive.

Please allow a personal word: if you’ll ever visit San Diego you must go and visit Petco Park. It might not the biggest stadium or the one with the most inspiring legacy, but it’s simply impressive. And – come on – San Diego alone is worth a trip …