Denver Broncos stadium naming rights fail to attract bidders

Fri Jul 1, 2016 8:44pm EDT
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By Tom Hals and Jessica DiNapoli

(Reuters) - Tickets to watch U.S. professional football team the Denver Broncos, the winners of the 2016 Super Bowl, may be a hot commodity, but an auction for their stadium's naming rights ended this week without any bids being received.

The stadium in Denver is called Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium, named after the eponymous sporting goods retailer in 2011. However, Sports Authority filed for bankruptcy in March and put the naming rights up for sale as part of a court-supervised auction.

No bidders for the rights came forward at an auction of the retailer's assets held this week, Matt Sugar, the director of stadium affairs at the Metropolitan Football Stadium District, which is the owner of the stadium, said on Friday. Discussions are underway about launching a new auction for the naming rights.

The contract for the naming rights up for grabs extends until 2021, and comes with a $3.6 million payment obligation due Aug. 1. Sports Authority is current on payments under the naming rights contract, Sugar said.

A spokesperson for Sports Authority declined to comment.

Prospective bidders may be worried about uncertainties in the bankruptcy court process, said Eric Smallwood, the managing partner of sports marketing consultancy Apex Marketing Group Inc. Sports Authority's creditors and the stadium's owner can object to the sale, and a bankruptcy court judge must also approve it.

This week, the stadium began the process of finding a marketing company to help it solicit interest in the naming rights on its own, Sugar said. However, the stadium may not be able to pursue such a sale unless Sports Authority defaults on its contract, or walks away from it.

Dick's Sporting Goods Inc is the lead bidder to buy Sports Authority's intellectual property, and 31 of its leases for $23 million following an auction this week.   Continued...

Sep 13, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; A general view before the game between the Denver Broncos and the Baltimore Ravens outside Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports