ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – One of St. Louis’s top companies announced a new naming rights package for the proposed billion dollar St. Louis riverfront football stadium.
The announcement was about more than money. It was about sending a message to the NFL: keep the Rams in St. Louis.
The stadium would be called “National Car Rental Field” under a deal announced at St. Louis Union Station, Wednesday.
The naming rights came with an average $7.9 million price tag; $158 million over the life a 20 year deal.
“I would love to officially say that National Car Rental has signed on to invest in the naming rights of National Car Rental Field,” said Pam Nicholson, CEO of National’s St. Louis based parent company, Enterprise.
New renderings showed off amenities like the “Emerald Club” and “Emerald Suites” at the stadium, in keeping with National’s branding of its rental car services.
The announcement came as NFL owners met in New York to mull over options for moving a team to Los Angeles by next season.
Those making the announcement in St. Louis conceded Rams owner, Stan Kroenke, wanted to move the team. Still, they maintained, they were not working against him.
“We’d love for Stan to build this building and lean into the market,” said Stadium Task Force Co-Chair, Dave Peacock. “So, we don’t look at it ‘against him’ we look at it as checking off a list of ‘to-do’s’ , in order to have a viable plan in the market. “
He said the naming rights deal was part of the plan to make St. Louis the most attractive option. A big part of that for both the task force and Enterprise was sending a message to Kroenke’s fellow owners about the level of both fan and corporate support for the Rams and the NFL in St. Louis.
“This is a significant statement. We are saying if a stadium is built and an NFL team resides in that stadium that we will commit and execute this naming rights deal. It is a certainty they did not have the day before,” said Enterprise Chief Marketing Officer, Pat Farrell. “St. Louis is the 19th largest TV market in America. There are 32 teams in the National Football League. Of course this is a great place for the NFL. It’s a great place for sports. Those of us who know this city well understand that we are a big league city…it is going to be a tremendous venue. We are going to bring football back to a level of prominence that we remember back from 1999 when the Rams won it all.”
Peacock noted St. Louis ranks 13th in NFL cities with 19 Fortune 500 companies.
Enterprise would be in the top 160 but is privately held and not counted among the 500.
Peacock said he approached company officials about a lower level of corporate support 2-3 months ago.
They asked about a naming rights deal.
Enterprise is a 6 generation company owned the Taylor family of St. Louis. Since its founding in 1957 it has grown into a global corporation with 90,000 workers in 70 countries, including 5,000 in St. Louis which is home to its world headquarters.
“For us this about much more than naming rights for a stadium. It’s about playing our part in a historic effort to renew our riverfront, renew our downtown area, and renew St. Louis’s standing as a world class city that delivers on all fronts,” Nicholson said.
“As far as what the outcome will be, I’m optimistic. I feel good, probably better now probably than I did 6 months ago,” Peacock said of the stadium effort.
Another task force member used a football metaphor saying the effort had cross the goal line and was awaiting the referee to put up his hands and signal a touchdown.
Task force members said that $158 million would go toward the cost of the stadium, possibly the owner’s $250 million portion.
Peacock said recent reports about the City of St. Louis’s portion of the financing possibly ballooning to more than $15 million a year as opposed to the current $6 million a year for Edward Jones Dome was not accurate. 15% of financing would come from the city, he said.
“What we’re trying to do is develop financing from the city that would extend the $6 million payment and then not put an incremental burden on the general budget beyond that so that anything would come from the revenues that would come from the facility. That’s our ideal state,” Peacock said.
The St. Louis Board of Aldermen would likely vote on its portion of a financing package next month, he said.