Bright House Networks buys naming rights to Clearwater's new stadium.
By BOB PUTNAM
Published January 21, 2004
With construction nearly complete on their $28-million ballpark, the Philadelphia Phillies added one final touch.
Bright House Networks agreed to pay the Phillies $1.7-million over 10 years to get its name on the team's new stadium. The cable company and the Phillies announced the Bright House Networks Field name on Tuesday.
"It's a relief to get this done," said John Timberlake, the Phillies' director of Florida operations. "It's a financial situation that works out for us and (Bright House)."
Beyond the initial term, there is an option for two five-year renewals.
Under the agreement, the city of Clearwater will receive one third of the cash payments, Clearwater Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Dunbar said.
That works out to roughly $35,000 in the first year, he said. Although he had not seen the contract, he said the agreement includes annual payments that grow over time.
"We only budgeted $25,000," Dunbar said. "So this is a good deal."
Clearwater Mayor Brian Aungst, whose full-time job is government relations director for Bright House, said he was not involved in the negotiations but praised the end result.
"I think it's a nice arrangement between both entities," he said. "It'll be a nice partnership."
The Clearwater stadium name isn't the only one to have appeared on the auction block. In 1998, Florida Progress Corp. agreed to pay St. Petersburg more than $150,000 a year until 2007 to rename the Tampa Bay Devil Rays spring training field Florida Power Park. That name has since changed to Progress Energy Park after the power company changed its own name.
And Dunedin formed a Naming Rights Task Force last year to market naming rights to the city's renovated baseball stadium, which is the spring training home of the Toronto Blue Jays. The city has expressed hopes it would attract $100,000 per year or more.
That search hasn't yielded success so far, but the task force was instrumental in granting the Pepsi Bottling Co. exclusive rights to sell its beverages in city facilities, said Harry Gross, director of leisure services for Dunedin.
The city's agreement, which could be completed within the next two weeks, would be separate from the one the Blue Jays have with Pepsi. The Jays can negotiate independently with beverage suppliers for concessions at the stadium.
"We're still talking to a number of companies about naming rights for the stadium," Gross said. "We're hopeful that everything will work out."
The Phillies started working on their naming rights arrangement as soon as the city of Clearwater agreed to build the stadium three years ago.
Timberlake said he spoke with as many as 120 companies with local ties, including Publix, Checkers, Eckerd Drugs, Hooters and Outback, before pitching seriously to 12. He started negotiating with Bright House Networks in May.
"Our goal was to have some sort of naming rights agreement with a local company," Timberlake said. "We talked to as many companies as you can name. Bright House just worked for us."
The new complex is scheduled for completion Feb. 6. The first spring training game is scheduled for March 4.
The stadium will be used in spring training by the Phillies major league and minor league players, a team in the Gulf Coast Rookie League and the Florida Instructional League.
The Clearwater Threshers, the Phillies' Class A affiliate in the Florida State League, will play their home games in Bright House Networks Field starting in April.