New Orleans Saints seeking new naming rights partner for Superdome
New Orleans Saints spokesman Greg Bensel confirmed Tuesday that Mercedes-Benz won't renew the naming rights to the Superdome. The end to the agreement with the German carmaker, which is set to expire in July 2021, has set off a search for another sponsor.
“The agreement is not being renewed, based on Mercedes-Benz having other opportunities,” said Bensl. “Mercedes-Benz has been an excellent partner for our team, the building and our region. We could not have asked for a more well-respected global company to have as our inaugural naming rights partner.”
The search marks just the second time in the Superdome's 45-year history that its naming rights have been up for grabs, and will end an unusual three years in which the Saints and arch-rival Atlanta Falcons both played in stadiums with the same sponsor.
The stadium opened its doors in 1975 as the Louisiana Superdome, a name that it kept through decades of major events including seven Super Bowls, the annual Essence Festival, concerts and, of course, Saints home games. It has also hosted special events including an address by Pope John Paul II in 1987 and the Republican National Convention the following year.
The building also gained notoriety during Hurricane Katrina, when it was used as a shelter of last resort.
The process of picking a new sponsor will be up to the Saints, and not the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District, the state entity often known as the Superdome Commission that owns the Dome.
Mercedes-Benz became the first company to put its name on the building in 2011 under a 10-year deal with the Saints that was reported to be worth between $50 million and $60 million. That deal came after months of courting by Saints officials, including trips to Germany to sell the idea.
Superdome Commission Chairman Kyle France alluded in November to the possibility that a naming decision would be coming up while discussing the $450 million in renovations that are currently on-going at the stadium.
The process of picking a new sponsor for the Superdome when the deal with Mercedes-Benz expires in July 2021 is already underway, Bensel said.
"The Mercedes-Benz Superdome is a globally iconic building that brings a tremendous valuable future for a naming rights partner," he said. "As with the philosophy of the Saints organization and the stature of the building, it will serve to represent our city, state and region as a leader to better our community, to be a more than just a naming rights opportunity, but a real partner, just as Mercedes-Benz was. And in that partnership, the goal will be to bring positive change to our region, our city and state, through a number of initiatives."