September 25, 2022

Footprint Center outside

Source: Suns Legacy Partners & Footprint

The Phoenix Suns have a new arena name after agreeing terms and conditions with engineering company Footprint, the parties announced on Friday. The downtown Phoenix complex will be called the Footprint Center.

Footprint is an environmentally conscious technology company that aims to eliminate single-use plastic. The Arizona-based company designs and manufactures plant-based packaging products and is recognized on the CNBC Disruptor 50 2021 list, which honors private companies that emerged from the pandemic.

Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed. But NBA arena sponsorships are typically in the seven-digit range per year, and sports partnership consultancy IEG notes that agreements can also run as high as $ 30 million a year.

In an interview with CNBC on Wednesday, Suns managing partner Robert Sarver said the agreement with Footprint is “one of the most unique partnerships in sport,” as Footprint will have full access to the arena and will use events to test new technologies.

“We’re going to innovate and change the way sports facilities work,” said Sarver. “The idea is that Footprint will create an innovation lab for us in our arena, and then we can do that and get other arenas around the world to do the same.”

Footprint manufactures sustainable products such as ready-to-eat dinner containers from bio-based, biodegradable, compostable and recyclable fibers. Footprint does business with companies like Swanson Foods (maker of Hungry-Man frozen meals) and Conagra Brands (healthy choice dinners). According to PitchBook, Footprint has raised more than $ 500 million to date.

“I think you will see that over time they become a household brand,” said Sarver. “You are in an area that is very popular with investors and companies that are also trying to improve their environmental footprint.”

The company enters into the contract with the suns at the right time. The team reached the NBA Finals for the first time since 1993 and recently completed a $ 230 million renovation of the arena, including $ 150 million from the City of Phoenix.

Troy Swope, Co-Founder and CEO of Footprint

Courtesy photo

Footprint co-founder and CEO Troy Swope said the deal with the Suns was “too imperative to pass”.

“The reason it’s called the Footprint Center is because we’re going to put Footprint at the center of the sustainable universe,” he added.

Sarver stated that sports arenas generate a lot of plastic waste, but it has been found that around 10% is recycled. “It’s terrible for the environment,” he said.

“I was also surprised to learn that a lot of people look carefully at what type of company they do business with – the different products they eat and how they are packaged,” added Sarver. “I started to think this would be a good fit for our customer base and demographics.”

Interior of the footprint center

Source: Suns Legacy Partners & Footprint

NBA arenas have sponsor openings

Smaller businesses can strengthen their brand with NBA arena sponsorships. The San Antonio Spurs have a vacancy after AT&T failed to retain its rights. The Oklahoma City Thunder could soon reveal a new name, and in March the Miami Heat agreed to its new 19-year, $ 135 million naming deal for the arena with crypto company FTX.

“They are seeing a fundamental shift in which younger companies that are in very high growth mode and looking to promote their brand names are taking the opportunity to sponsor buildings,” said Sarver, who also owns the WNBA’s Mercury franchise.

Talking Stick Resort declined to renew naming rights with the Suns last November. The Arizona casino property acquired the slot from US Airways in 2015. That deal was a 10-year deal valued at more than $ 20 million, according to the Arizona Republic.

Footprint will benefit from Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday. The league approved virtual floor advertising for the company, which gave it additional national TV exposure. These slots are usually reserved for top corporate sponsors, which means the suns had to seek permission.

“That was unique,” said Sarver of the new deal. “And it just suits us.”

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