NFL: German automaker buys name rights to Saints' Dome

4th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

German automaker Mercedes-Benz announced a 10-year deal with the NFL's New Orleans Saints on Tuesday to buy naming rights for the Superdome, once a symbol of Hurricane Katrina's horror.

The deal will ensure the 73,000-seat stadium bears the corporate brand during the 2013 Super Bowl as well as two major multi-million-dollar US events, January's college gridiron final and next April's college basketball finals.

Financial details of the contract were not revealed but similar stadium deals for other NFL teams in recent years for new facilities have ranged between $6 million and $10 million a year.

It will also result in Louisiana taxpayers contributing little or nothing toward operation of the Saints through the end of their current lease in 2025. They have been helping to subsidize the team since a 2009 lease extension.

Opening in 1975, the Superdome has been the site of six Super Bowls and a 1987 papal visit, but is most recalled for being used as a refuge for thousands of people after Katrina devastated New Orleans in August of 2005.

The storm tore part of the roof off the facility and the building was flooded, those who fled there being subjected to extreme heat, no electricity or bathrooms as government leaders failed to help those in distress for days.

But the stadium was reopened in 2006 for the Saints, who provided New Orleans a much-needed lift by winning their first Super Bowl in 2010 at Miami.

A $336 million renovation effort was completed in August and a naming-rights deal that had been difficult to complete was finally put together.

"For many years there have been attempts to sell this sponsorship and I think the restructured deal and the new Superdome are two of the reasons this is actually happening," Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal said.

Mercedes-Benz also owns name rights to venues in Stuttgart and Shanghai.

© 2011 AFP

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