Bengals Ink 16-Year Stadium Naming Rights Deal With Paycor

The Super Bowl runner-up Cincinnati Bengals have sold naming rights to their stadium to local software company Paycor HCM, leaving just two NFL stadiums without a corporate partner.

The venue, long called Paul Brown Stadium after the team’s founder, will be named Paycor Stadium for the next 16 years. It’s an expansion of an existing relationship between the NFL team and Paycor (Nasdaq: PYCR), which offers payroll and HR software, and has been headquartered in Cincinnati for more than 30 years.

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Financial terms of the deal, negotiated by Excel Sports Management, weren’t disclosed. The rights could be worth $8 million to $12 million per year, depending on the specifics of the partnership, according to sponsorship consulting firm Apex Marketing Group.

The deal is part of a larger push by the NFL’s least-valuable team to generate more revenue, which could help finance day-to-day operations and future projects like a new indoor practice facility. Earlier this week the team announced its first-ever naming rights deal to a stadium gate.

“We’re a small-market team, we need the revenue streams that we can obtain,” owner Mike Brown, Paul’s son, said last month. “The fact that about 30 teams have naming rights and a revenue stream from that, and they have more revenue than we do to begin with. We have to do some things just to keep up.”

The Bengals had $458 million in revenue in 2021, according to Sportico’s calculations, the lowest total in the league despite reaching the Super Bowl (the club ranked No. 29 in net ticket revenue, according to another Sportico report). The franchise is worth $2.8 billion, also the lowest of the NFL’s 32 franchises, roughly $1.3 billion below the league average.

Naming rights are among the most expensive sponsorship assets held by an NFL franchise. At the top end, fintech company SoFi (Nasdaq: SOFI) is paying roughly $31.2 million per year to put its name atop the Los Angeles Rams’ new home in Los Angeles. More recently, the Pittsburgh Steelers announced a new deal with insurance company Acrisure that reportedly pays $10 million per year.

Naming rights were once a big point of contention between NFL owners. Back when the richest NFL teams shared some local income with low-revenue teams, many found it bothersome that clubs like the Bengals left money on the table by not selling naming rights to their stadium. That became less of a sore point about a decade ago when the NFL changed how it divvies up revenue.

Paycor Stadium opened in 2000, and is also home to the team’s administrative offices. It is owned by Hamilton County, but operated by the Bengals.

There are now just two NFL stadiums without a naming rights partner—Green Bay’s Lambeau Field and Chicago’s Soldier Field. There’s just one in the NBA (Madison Square Garden), three in the NHL, and eight in MLB, according to Axios.

Paycor has been the Bengals’ official HR software provider since 2018. The company went public in 2021.

With assistance from Kurt Badenhausen.

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