The $950,000 Safety Net in National Car Rental's Stadium Deal

  • Company inked $158 million sponsorship for St. Louis venue
  • Deal takes effect only if NFL team plays in proposed stadium

National Car Rental just positioned itself to reap nearly $1 million in marketing -- and it may not cost them a penny.

National Car Rental this week announced a 20-year, $158 million commitment to put its name on a new football stadium in St. Louis, if -- and only if -- an NFL team remains in the city. The St. Louis Rams, owned by billionaire Stan Kroenke, are one of three NFL teams considering a move to Los Angeles, the country’s second-biggest media market. To try to persuade the Rams to stay, Missouri has proposed a new, 64,000-seat venue on the banks of the Mississippi river.

A league-wide vote on whether to relocate a team, or teams, to Southern California, is expected early next year. Until then, though, the promised stadium will be referred to as National Car Rental Field. That brand exposure is worth an estimated $950,000 over the next 12 months, according to Apex Marketing Group Inc., which measures financial impact of social media and press coverage (which includes articles like this one). That’s without a stadium under construction, and without money changing hands.

The St. Louis situation could end up similar to free advertising Farmers Insurance Group received by attaching its name to a $1.2 billion NFL stadium project in L.A. which was never built. Farmers reaped about $6 million in exposure in the four years between when it committed a reported $700 million for the naming rights and when Anschutz Entertainment Group announced the plan was dead.

Pat Farrell, Chief Marketing Officer for St. Louis-based Enterprise Holdings Inc., National’s parent company, said that while he was aware of the unintended benefits reaped by Farmers, it wasn’t a factor in negotiating this deal.

"Free publicity in a short duration is not how we look at this," Farrell said in a telephone interview. "We want something that makes sense for the product from a long-term perspective. We also want our city to have the kind of major-league amenities that come with professional sports."

Kroenke does not. He has purchased a 60-acre plot of land in Inglewood, California, for a stadium that would be the future home of the Rams. Neither his nor the joint proposal by the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers in Carson have naming rights agreements.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.