MetLife Said to Be in Talks to Name Giants, Jets NFL Stadium

The New York Giants and Jets are in talks with MetLife Inc. (MET) that may put the biggest U.S. life insurer’s name on the National Football League teams’ shared stadium in New Jersey, according to a person familiar with the talks.

MetLife would become the primary naming rights partner of the only building in the U.S.’s most-popular sport shared by two teams and the home of the 2014 Super Bowl, according to the person, who declined to be identified because talks are ongoing.

Giants spokesman Pat Hanlon and Jets spokesman Bruce Speight declined to comment in e-mails. Christopher Breslin, a MetLife spokesman, also declined to comment.

The naming rights package being negotiated would average between $17 million and $18 million a year, according to the Sports Business Journal, which reported the talks yesterday, citing a person it didn’t identify. MetLife is one of four so- called cornerstone partners in the $1.6 billion stadium that opened last year in East Rutherford, New Jersey, paying about $7 million for in-stadium branding.

MetLife Chairman Robert Henrikson, whose tenure as chief executive officer ended in May, told investors in December that five years ago he turned down an opportunity to put MetLife’s name on “a big sports enterprise.” Since then, the company has increased spending on advertising and promotion of its Snoopy logo. The white and black dog, a creation from Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts” comic strip, appears on MetLife’s home page and its blimp.

The company is a sponsor of the U.S. PGA tour and its branded blimps appear at golf tournaments and other sports events.

“People love Snoopy places we thought they might not like Snoopy at all,” Henrikson said in a May conference call with analysts. “Do the Japanese love the MetLife blimp doing the golf tournaments in Japan? You betcha.”

Insurers’ Agreements

Insurers Progressive Corp. (PGR) and Farmers Group Inc. have naming rights deals to U.S. stadiums. Progressive Field is home to baseball’s Cleveland Indians. Farmers said in February it would purchase naming rights to a planned NFL stadium in Los Angeles.

New Meadowlands Stadium Co. in September 2008 said it would end talks with Europe’s biggest insurer, Allianz SE, after protests by Jewish groups including the Anti-Defamation League that the company once insured Auschwitz.

MetLife, which held more than $450 billion of investments at the end of March, has expanded outside the U.S. as growth in its home market has slowed. Last year, MetLife spent more than $16 billion to acquire a unit from American International Group Inc. (AIG)

To contact the reporter on this story: Aaron Kuriloff in New York at akuriloff@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net.

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