Florida Panthers Reach Record Deal with BB&T

Aerial view of BB&T Center, former BankAtlantic Center.

(from Sports Business Journal, September 10-16) NHL’s Florida franchise, the Florida Panthers, reached an agreement with BB&T, a North Carolina based organization, which could extend to 20 years. The deal is the most lucrative naming deal for a Florida arena, valued at $3.7 million a year, with two five-year options. Before the takeover of BB&T, the arena was referred to as the BankAtlantic Center. BankAtlantic’s deal with the Florida Panthers was previously valued at $3.2 million before negotiations with BB&T were in progress.

Securing naming rights through a long-term deal provides a sense of security for the Florida Panthers. Other arenas and stadiums, such as Sun Life Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins, and the Florida Marlins ballpark, who opened this year without naming rights, are finding it difficult to secure a naming partner long term. Sun Life Stadium has naming rights through the 2014 season, but in the recent past, the stadium has seen a wide realm of corporate naming.

Michael Yormack, President of Sunrise Sports & Entertainment, parent company of the Florida Panthers and the arena, stated, “BB&T didn’t have to do a long-term deal, the bank could have easily just assumed the existing rights for the next three years. It is making a strong commitment.” Why would BB&T be so committed to a long-term deal? Mike Oster, BB&T’s President for the South Florida region, considers this move as a reflection of their strategy for developing greater brand awareness in the local market. BB&T has managed to expand their branches from 70 to 115. Not only does the arena hosts home Panther games, but it is the top draw of concert and family shows, which served as a key factor for BB&T to sign such a long-term deal.

The bank receives a variety of benefits from the signing, which include exclusive use of suites, the bank logo painted at center ice and on the basketball floor for the MetroPCS Orange Bowl Classic, and naming rights to a minor league baseball park under development in Charlotte. In addition, hopes are for BB&T to expand their market.