Bank of America naming rights on Panthers stadium end soon, and the price is going up

Time is running out on Bank of America’s naming rights contract for the Carolina Panthers’ stadium uptown.

The bank purchased the naming rights in 2004 under a 20-year agreement for $140 million, or $7 million per season. The financial institution has been headquartered in Charlotte since 1998 after NationsBank’s merger with BankAmerica.

It’s unclear if Bank of America will renew the contract. A bank spokesperson said there’s nothing to report at this time.

“Out of respect for our partners and the proprietary nature of our contracts, the organization does not publicly comment on the status of our partnerships,” Tepper Sports & Entertainment, the ownership group of the Panthers, said Friday in a statement.

The nearly 75,000-seat NFL football stadium at 800 S. Mint St. is home to the Carolina Panthers and Charlotte Football Club.

While stadium naming rights are an advertising tool that provides more visibility, it’s more about goodwill with the community, said Craig Depken, sports economist and professor of economics for the Belk College of Business at UNC Charlotte.

“Naming rights deals don’t generate huge revenue for sponsors,” he said.

Still, the price tag is going up.

Naming rights price tag

At the time of the Panthers’ deal with Bank of America nearly 20 years ago, sports marketer Max Muhleman, who helped negotiate the deal, said it was “among the biggest.”

Today, the average stadium naming rights deal across the country is about $14 million a year, Depken said. He expects the new contract for the Panthers stadium to cost about $10 to $15 million annually.

Last year, insurance company Acrisure paid $10 million per year for 15 years to be the name on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ stadium.

Also last year, the Cincinnati Bengals and Paycor signed a deal worth for $12 million a year for 16 years.

Other stadium deals have doubled and tripled those numbers.

In 2019, Social Finance Inc. paid more than $30 million annually over 20 years to put its name “SoFi” on the new stadium for the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers.

The same year, Allegiant Airlines paid $25 million per year for Las Vegas Raiders stadium rights.

Depken said stadium naming rights are a revenue-generating asset for sports teams.

“They tend to spend more on the team and the facilities,” he said.

Bank of America Stadium history

The stadium opened in 1996 as Ericsson Stadium. The Swedish telecom company LM Ericsson paid $20 million over 20 years for the naming rights. Ericsson had agreed to end the deal early if a replacement was found, the Observer reported.

Panthers to the Rolling Stones: Bank of America Stadium has seen Charlotte history

In 2018, David Tepper purchased the Panthers for an NFL record $2.275 billion from team founder and former owner Jerry Richardson, following allegations against Richardson of workplace misconduct. When Richardson was awarded the franchise in 1993, the city and county bought the land but he built the $250 million stadium, primarily from Permanent Seat License income, according to Observer archives.

Bank of America Stadium has undergone many renovations through the years, from $5 million in club improvements in 2003, to the addition of 206 lower level seats in 2007 to $14 million installing the end zone video screen in 2008, the Observer previously reported.

The most recent stadium renovations include $50 million in enhancements to outfit the venue with soccer-friendly upgrades when Charlotte FC debuted in last year with a record-setting crowd.

Bank of America Stadium also is used for college championships and as a concert venue.

Online chatter

Social media sites like Reddit and the unofficial Panthers Nation by ClutchPoints Facebook page have been having a blast this week coming up with possible stadium name sponsors if Bank of America doesn’t proceed.

Ideas include Lowe’s, Duke Energy, Cheerwine or Krispy Kreme.

“They could turn on a 12’ tall ‘hot now’ sign when we win,” one person said.

Other proposals included Dollar General or Spirit Halloween, referring to the seasonal Halloween retailer that temporarily occupies vacant retail stores.

Or “Rock Hill Stadium in exchange for the million dollar lawsuit…,” one person said referring to the failed deal for the Panthers training facility and headquarters site.