Breaking down arena sponsorship across the NHL

There are a number of major sources of revenue for NHL teams that allow them to pay players the salaries that they earn. One of them is the naming rights to the arenas in which they play. Teams sign agreements with a sponsoring group (corporation, organization etc.) for a number of years. While most arenas have sponsors, a couple of arenas are named after the area in which they are located and have no formal sponsor.

Arena naming rights is important. On a quick podcast last week, Elliotte Friedman outlined the impact that not having NHL teams playing in their home arenas would have on standing sponsorship deals, and how that has the chance to hurt the teams’ bottom lines.

We decided to break down the arena naming sponsors for all the NHL teams.

But, instead of breaking it down by team, we have broken it down by the corporation that holds the naming rights. In this way, we show which types of corporations typically sponsor arenas and where their major areas of focus are.

no corporate name sponsor

There are just two NHL arenas currently that do not have a corporate name sponsor, and both are in New York. Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Rangers, is named after Madison Square in New York City, which in turn was named after former American President James Madison. The arena is the oldest in the NHL (although it has undergone numerous significant renovations over the years) and is the second busiest arena in the world.

The other is the current home of the New York Islanders: Nassau Coliseum. While the Islanders have gone between there and the Barclay Center, the Islanders played their playoff games at Nassau last season and plans were in place for them to play there again this season.

The arena is officially called the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, and is named for the county, Nassau County, which owns it. Interestingly, Nassau is an old name for Long Island.

Banking and Finance

By far the largest sponsorship group, the banking and finance category makes up 11 arenas across the NHL at all ends of North America. Scotiabank holds the naming rights to the Saddledome, where the Calgary Flames play, as well as the arena in downtown Toronto, where the Maple Leafs play. Scotiabank spent $800 million for the naming rights to the arena in Toronto for the next 20 years.

The other nine are made up of insurance giants like Nationwide and Prudential, who have the arenas in Columbus and New Jersey respectively. There are also large banks like TD in Boston, Keybank in Buffalo, and BB&T in Sunrise, Florida. Capital One, the major credit card firm, holds the arena naming rights in Washington DC; PNC Financial, a banking conglomerate, has the naming rights in Carolina; and Wells Fargo, another banking and insurance behemoth, has the naming rights in Philadelphia.

SAP is a major business and enterprise software group that has the naming rights to the arena in San Jose. Interestingly it is owned by Hasso Plattner, who also owns the San Jose Sharks. It is one of the only instance where the team and the arena have the same sponsor.

Retail Trade

Six arena naming rights are owned by retail firms. In the automotive sector, Honda owns the rights to the arena in Anaheim while Enterprise Rent a Car has the naming rights to the arena where the St. Louis Blues play.

Canadian retail giant Canadian Tire has the naming rights to the arena in Kanata, Ontario where the Ottawa Senators play. This arena’s naming rights were previously held by Scotiabank.

The iconic Staples Centre in downtown Los Angeles is named for the big box retailer of office goods: Staples. They have held the naming rights to the arena since it was opened in 1999.

Surprisingly few fast food places have the naming rights to major arenas in North America. The only one in the NHL is Little Caesars, which owns the naming rights to the arena in Detroit. The late Mike Illich, former owner of the Red Wings, founded and owned the iconic pizza restaurant.

Finally, Amazon, the retailer of… everything, owns the naming rights to the new arena in Seattle, where the Kraken will play. However, they have decided to name the arena Climate Pledge Arena, which will be the world’s first carbon net-neutral arena in the world. The ice that the players skate on will be made from reclaimed rainwater.

Telecommunications

Three groups operate the five arenas in this category. Bell Communications, a Canadian cell phone and Internet group, owns the arenas in Montreal and Winnipeg. The arena in Winnipeg is the Bell MTS Place, which is the operating name of Bell in the province of Manitoba. The province bought out Bell in the early 1900s to own all telecoms, but sold their operations back to the company in 2017.

Rogers Communications, another Canadian Internet and cell phone provider owns the naming rights to the arenas in Vancouver and Edmonton. Rogers also owns the Rogers Centre in Toronto, where the Toronto Blue Jays and others play.

Finally, T-Mobile, the American telecoms group owns the naming rights to the arena where the Vegas Golden Knights play. While an iconic American brand, T-Mobile is actually mostly owned by Deutsche Telekom, a German Group.

Manufacturing

With the changing of the naming rights in Denver from Pepsi to Ball, there are now three arenas owned by manufacturing groups. Ball Industries, the new holder of the naming rights to the arena where the Avalanche play, is the world’s largest manufacturer of bottles and jars for foodstuffs. They have worked over the last decade to become more environmentally sustainable, and will partner with the Kroenke Group, who own the Avalanche, as their sustainability partner.

PPG Industries, one of the largest paint and primer manufacturers in the world owns the naming rights to the arena in Pittsburgh, where the Penguins play. It is called the PPG Paints Arena. The conglomerate is active in numerous fields from aerospace to eyeglasses, and also has partnerships with Formula 1 Teams.

Finally, Bridgestone Tires holds the naming rights to the rink in Nashville, called Bridgestone Arena. The largest tire manufacturer in the world, the group is based out of Tokyo, Japan.

Miscelaneous

There are five arenas who did not fit into any of the above mentioned categories. There are two arenas named for airlines: the United Centre in Chicago and the American Airlines Centre in Dallas. Interestingly, United Airlines is based out of Chicago, while American Airlines is based out of, you guessed it, Dallas-Fort Worth.

While one of the largest industries in the world, and one where numerous NHL owners made their money, only two arenas are named for energy companies. Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay is named for the Amalie Oil Company, which specializes in motor oils. The other is Xcel Energy Centre in Saint Paul, Minnesota, which is a utility provider of electricity.

Finally, there is one arena named after a casino group, Gila River Arena in Glendale (it’s pronounced hee-lah). Owned by the Gila River Indian Community, which was the first federally recognized North American tribe to hold arena naming rights in any of the major North American Sports Leagues.

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