The Saints are saying they view Mercedes-Benz’s 27-year naming rights deal for the Atlanta Falcons’ new stadium not so much as an affront but a reflection on how successful the German automaker sees its 10-year deal for the Superdome’s rights.
“From our perspective, Mercedes-Benz realized just how beneficial and positive their naming rights deal was in New Orleans,” team president Dennis Lauscha said Friday. “It was a litmus test that we, the Saints, our city and our building proved worth investing in. We honestly cannot argue against the business decision made by both parties.”
Mercedes-Benz CEO Steve Cannon called the Superdome “a great partner” during Tuesday’s announcement in Atlanta but added, “When we made that deal, we had no idea we would be moving to Atlanta. We’ll deal with that when the time comes. Obviously, to have two stadiums in the same division, you wouldn’t plan it that way.”
Lauscha said there have been no formal talks about renewing the Saints’ deal but that Jean-Paul Dardenne, the team’s senior vice president of corporate sponsorships, had been in Atlanta this week to meet with Mercedes-Benz executives.
“We expect to have a long and successful relationship,” Lauscha said.
The Saints’ naming rights deal, which began in 2011, is worth an estimated $60 million. It was the first in the 40-year history of the Superdome. But it has been dwarfed by the deal in Atlanta, both by its longevity and its dollar amount, which the Atlanta Journal-Constitution estimated to be worth a minimum of $216 million — or $8 million annually — with an upper-end estimate of $340 million.
Like the Saints, the Falcons keep all of the naming rights money for their facility, which will be called Mercedes-Benz Stadium and will open in 2017. Along with the Falcons, the stadium, which will replace the Georgia Dome, will be the home of an MLS expansion team and the Peach Bowl.
Mercedes recently moved its U.S. headquarters to Atlanta, and Cannon said he wanted to find ways to make the company’s presence known in its new home.