Phillies new stadium to be called Citizens Bank ParkPosted: Tuesday June 17, 2003 11:20 AM
Updated: Tuesday June 17, 2003 4:13 PM
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Philadelphia Phillies fans: Welcome to Citizens Bank Park.
The fast-growing bank beat out more than a dozen companies for naming rights to the Phillies' new ballpark, resulting in a sports complex where all the stadiums are named for financial services companies.
Citizens will pay the Phillies $2.3 million per year to stick its name on entrances, scoreboard, concourses, parking lot banners and behind home plate when the team moves into its lush new digs in April.
The naming-rights deal is worth about $57.5 million over 25 years. Citizens will also pay the Phillies $37.5 million for an advertising package that makes the bank the only financial services company to advertise on Phillies radio and television broadcasts.
"It's all about connecting with Philadelphia, and the Phillies are part of the fabric," Stephen D. Steinour, chairman and chief executive of Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania, told a news conference at the ballpark's South Philadelphia construction site.
Phillies president David Montgomery said the team started out talking to "north of a dozen" businesses about the naming rights more than two years ago and narrowed the field to just Citizens in recent months.
"They were in a growth mode," Montgomery said after the name was unveiled in a shower of fireworks and confetti. "We wanted to find someone who shared our commitment to the city of Philadelphia and its community. We have."
The $57.5 million is in the mid range of naming rights deals that range from the $30 million, 20-year deal signed five years ago for PNC Park in Pittsburgh to a $168 million, 28-year deal for Minute Maid Park in Houston.
Steinour said Citizens, which has been the team's official bank for two seasons, wasn't interested in anything shorter than a 25-year agreement because "we wanted to make a demonstrably long-term commitment to Philadelphia."
Citizens is part of Providence, R.I.-based Citizens Financial Group, a $64.4 billion commercial bank holding company and a subsidiary of Royal Bank of Scotland.
The company has bought 21 banks in the Northeast since 1988, and purchased 345 Mellon bank branches in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey in 2001 for $2.1 billion.
"We've grown nicely, and this is a way of further broadening our presence," Steinour said. "It's like once in a lifetime. We are in other markets and there are no stadium opportunities."
The new Philadelphia Eagles football stadium, which opens in August, is named Lincoln Financial Field, and the building where the Flyers and 76ers play is named for a bank -- currently the First Union Center, soon to be the Wachovia Center because of a bank merger.
The Phillies are playing their last season in Veterans Stadium, which opened in 1971 and will be torn down when the season is done.
The new 43,000-seat, baseball-only stadium, under construction on a parking lot across the street from the Vet, features a grass-and-dirt field and a commanding view of the city skyline.
The team said the ballpark, which has a view of the Philadelphia skyline, will be further identified by a 50-foot-high neon-lighted Liberty Bell over the left-field bleacher seats that will pulsate and swing when the Phillies score a home run.
Montgomery said the bell will allow even a television viewer to "quickly say 'Hey, that's a game in Philadelphia."'