The Miami Dolphins' most valuable chunk of real estate — their stretch of premium stadium seats with the best views of the field — has a new deep-pocketed backer.
The Dolphins have sold the naming rights to their club level to BankUnited, The Miami Herald has learned.
Beginning Thursday, the 10,000-seat stretch of premium seating will be formally known as the BankUnited Club Level. It's the first time the team has sold branding rights to that section of the facility.
Financial terms of the agreement, which will run between five and seven years, were not released.
“We are proud to partner with the Miami Dolphins yet again and to have our name associated with one of the premier sporting venues in the country,” said John Kanas, BankUnited chairman, president and CEO. “This is a tremendous branding opportunity for BankUnited.”
Added Jim Rushton, the Dolphins' chief revenue officer: "Companies understand that sports is an important way to connect to customers. It's the next evolution in naming rights."
BankUnited is no stranger to sports branding. The Miami Lakes-based mega-bank, which went through an ownership change during the nation's financial meltdown, also has owned the naming rights for the University of Miami's on-campus basketball arena since 2005.
The Dolphins' multi-use stadium has gone through several name changes since debuting as Joe Robbie in 1987. Pro Player, Landshark and, most recently, Sun Life have all had sponsorship deals with the building.
The latest deal comes at a time when the franchise's finances are on an apparent upswing.
Club level ticket sales are up 20 percent over this time last year, and the Dolphins have sold the most new suites of any NFL team, Rushton said. He credits a rebounding South Florida economy and renewed enthusiasm for the team for the turnaround.