5.20.2016

Dah Gahden Returns (sort of)

July 2, 2005
Go ahead, call it the Garden again.


   That's the message that TD Banknorth Inc. and the owner of the former FleetCenter are promoting this week, as the home of the Boston Bruins and Celtics is officially renamed the TD Banknorth Garden. The Maine bank made a huge bet this year when it promised to pay about $6 million annually a quarter of last year's marketing budget to put its name on the iconic arena.


        The choice of the Garden name harkens back to the cherished Boston Garden, the predecessor to the FleetCenter, where both the Celtics and Bruins won a string of championships. Bank executives clearly hope to capitalize on the potential halo effect surrounding the resurrection of the Garden name. But some marketing executives argue that, if New Englanders revert to calling the building "the Garden," as is likely, the bank will lose some of the value in its expensive naming rights deal.


   "It's going to be: Who's bringing back the Garden name? Some bank," said Marc Gallucci, chief executive of Fort Franklin, a South End advertising firm. "They're going to be 'some bank.' "


   He argued that customers won't remember which bank renamed the building, and that the loss will outweigh whatever bump in popularity the bank gets from naming the building.


   TD Banknorth executives, however, say they fully intend for New England residents to shorten the name to the Garden. They argue that their naming rights deal still will be valuable because the full name, TD Banknorth Garden, will be visible on the arena's signs, floor logos, and mentioned in news reports.


   The bank's senior executive vice president, David Ott, likened the Garden choice to nicknaming a Volkswagen Beetle a bug. "You may use the short name, but you still know what it is," he said.


   Sports marketing firms have made a science out of valuing the different components of a naming rights deal, including how many times a sponsor is mentioned in print and on television. One of the most well-known firms in this field, Bonham Group, uses a dozen different criteria to place value on each mention, including the story's placement in the newspaper, its advertising rates, and the number of times the sponsor is named.


   A typical sports story in The Boston Globe that mentions the naming rights partner, for example, would be worth $1,200-$1,500, said Shawn Bradley, Bonham Group's vice president and chief operating officer.


   In a naming rights deal, the mentions can add up fast: Newspapers mentioned the name FleetCenter nearly 10,000 times last year, with a big bump in July as the facility hosted the Democratic National Convention, according to a Nexis search.


   TD Banknorth bought naming rights to the FleetCenter this year after Bank of America Corp.'s acquisition of Boston's largest bank, FleetBoston Financial Corp. Bank of America decided to pay a fee, likely about $3 million, to get out of Fleet's naming rights contract, rather than sign off on a new deal to call the building the Bank of America Center.


   TD Banknorth's $6 million-a-year naming rights deal is triple the $2 million price Fleet paid. Still, the price may be worth it: The naming rights deal gives the Maine bank a chance to gain recognition on the eve of its plans to expand rapidly in the Northeast. Banknorth, which ranked fourth among retail banks in Massachusetts market share last year, recently sold a majority stake in its operations to Canada's TD Bank Financial Group, which will give the Maine bank access to capital to finance bigger acquisitions.


   The building officially became the TD Banknorth Garden yesterday. Still, the herculean task of converting and putting up new signs has only just begun. Garden executives are reordering everything from new seat plaques (the seats say FleetCenter), to new tickets, to new drinking cups, and they even will need to replace the toilet paper dispensers.


   They also will have to rename the street, since it is now called One FleetCenter Place. That will require approval from the MBTA, the Post Office, and the city. When complete, the changeover is expected to cost $3 million.

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