The Pittsburgh Pirates have struggled on and off the playing field for the last few years, and Pittsburgh-based PNC Bank Corp. has struggled to get national name recognition. A new 20-year marketing alliance, under which the baseball team's new stadium will be sponsored by the bank and named PNC Park, is expected to help both organizations achieve their goals.
Under the naming rights agreement, PNC Bank will pay approximately $1.5 million a year through the 2020 baseball season. A separate marketing agreement also provides for a variety of merchandising and advertising opportunities with the Pirates, including the exclusive right to offer financial services at the ballpark. PNC Bank will have ATMs and probably a consumer banking office at the stadium.
"The stadium will give us a platform for a national identity," said Jonathan Williams, a bank spokesman. He added that while many of the bank's activities, such as its asset management business, are national in scope, the bank itself has not received the national name recognition it believes it deserves.
Sponsorship of the stadium will give PNC Bank about 1.5 billion media "impressions" a year, according to a marketing study, Mr. Williams said. A media "impression" occurs every time a consumer sees the name of the bank, in any type of media.
While many Pittsburgh residents wanted the new stadium to be named for the late Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente, the economics of baseball today make corporate sponsorships a necessity, Mr. Williams said.
"The reality is, in smaller markets all the teams have to have corporate sponsors now," he said. "The naming rights agreement assures the Pirates will stay in Pittsburgh and can be competitive, with the financial ability to sign top players."
Construction of the ballpark is scheduled to begin in April 1999, with the opening set for 2001.