The Name Game

Zygi Wilf has come up with a naming plan for the complex the Vikings hope to move into if their Anoka County stadium plan is approved, but the naming of the stadium itself could be a multi-million dollar addition to help defray some of his personal investment.

Over the last several years, Vikings fans have heard an earful of discussions concerning the disparity between what the Vikings generate in ancillary revenues compared to the other 31 teams in the NFL. Some claim the Vikings are dead last in the creation of "side money," while even the best-case scenario has them sitting at or around No. 30.

Whether it's luxury suite revenues, in-stadium advertising or numerous other revenue streams, creating income off a stadium has become the rage around the NFL. Franchises like the Redskins and Cowboys reap tens of millions of dollars every year through these revenue streams that, as of now, the Vikings find extremely limited.

That will change in a big way if the Vikings can get their own stadium bill passed and design a new stadium that will give the team more opportunities to cash in on the available revenue that can be generated with off-the-field product placement and top-end seating packages.

But one of the biggest untapped resources is one of the simplest -- the naming of the stadium. When the Metrodome was built, it was named after former Senator and Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey. That wasn't too unusual. At the time, many stadiums were named after famous people, including Lambeau Field and RFK Stadium. But since that Metrodome was built a quarter-century ago, the landscape has changed.

Stadiums with names like Qualcomm Stadium, Invesco Field, Ford Field, Heinz Field and Bank of America Stadium have become the norm rather than the exception. On Tuesday, Titans officials announced that their stadium, which had been called the generic name "The Colisseum" will be changed this season. Why? Naming rights.

The Titans agreed to a 10-year naming rights contract with Louisiana-Pacific Corp. Tuesday. The new name of the stadium will be LP Field. The windfall for the Titans will be immediate and pretty subtantial -- $30 million over 10 years.

The name game has become one of the more lucrative competitions among corporate sponsors. When the Pennsylvania-based Heinz Corporation got involved in naming the Steelers new field, it came with a price -- $57 million (one for each of the company's 57 varieties of sauces and condiments).

To his credit, Red McCombs with all his business savvy, never dared tread on the ghost of Humphrey by going after a corporate naming competition for the Metrodome. He likely would have been strung up by angry fans had he done so, but, with a new stadium looming on the horizon, there's no reason the Vikings shouldn't cash in like everyone else.

Making millions off of naming a stadium is one of the perks that NFL owners enjoy and, if the Titans are any example, if 3-M, Pillsbury or some corporation outside Minnesota wants to attach its corporate name to the next Vikings stadium, the price will likely be no less than $3-4 million a year.

Welcome to the corporate world of the NFL. It's good to be the king, and the NFL clearly has that title -- and the money perks that go with it. Now it's time for the Vikings to finally moved from the financial kid's table to the main table to enjoy the feast.

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