A bunch of prominent South Florida residents — including Dolphins legend Dan Marino and current players Jarvis Landry, Ndamukong Suh and Reshad Jones — celebrated the team’s new stadium naming rights deal with Hard Rock International on Wednesday by smashing and destroying guitars during an unusual on-field ceremony.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross can celebrate merely by going to the bank.
The 18-year deal to rename the facility Hard Rock Stadium is believed to be worth about $250 million. That equals nearly $14 million annually, which would be the third-highest annual naming rights payout for any NFL stadium.
AT&T pays the Dallas Cowboys about $19 million per year for naming rights, while MetLife’s deal for the Giants/Jets stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, is worth $16 million annually.
The Dolphins are now third on that list, though Los Angeles is expected to surpass them when the Rams line up a naming rights deal for their new stadium.
The Dolphins’ deal is about twice what the team received from Sun Life, a Toronto-based financial company whose name graced the stadium from 2010 through January of this year.
“Instead of selling [personal seat licenses] to fans for $100,000 a seat or something, this money helps us partly pay for that $500 million [stadium] renovation,” Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkel said.
Garfinkel said more than 50 companies expressed interest in naming rights, but Hard Rock was appealing because “we love the name. We love the brand. It’s all about entertainment. That’s what we’re about with this stadium, [with] all the entertainment we’re going to have. Hard Rock is globally recognized around the world.”
The NFL is leery about any association with gambling, and Hard Rock International, owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, owns casinos, including one in Hollywood. But Garfinkel said the deal, approved by the NFL this week, “is compliant with the current policy. The deal we did isn’t with the casino. The deal is with the entertainment brand of Hard Rock, the hotels, the restaurants, the live music brand.”
Hard Rock International chairman Jim Allen said the company had been approached about stadium naming rights deals in other markets but “this was the only one of interest to us, because of the location, the tribe being here, and Miami is a gateway to Latin America.”
Garfinkel announced that the Brazilian national soccer team will play six or seven games at Hard Rock Stadium over the next “several years,” and Real Madrid will play there against an undetermined opponent in the opener of the 2017 International Champions Cup.
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