Philips Arena in Atlanta shown in 2002, three years after it opened. (Getty Images)
Technology firm Philips will not renew its naming rights deal for the Atlanta Hawks’ arena, sources said. The agreement expires in June 2019.
Team spokesman Garin Narain confirmed the deal runs into 2019, but said, “At this point, we’re not ready to say anything.”
Philips officials did not return emails and phone calls for comment.
Sources said the decision was imminent after the 127-year-old Netherlands-based company sold most of its consumer electronics assets to a Japanese competitor in 2013. Philips has shifted its focus to residential lighting and healthcare technology, and extending the deal does not fit with its core business strategy, sources said.
The decision ends a sponsorship that has stood for years among the most lucrative naming-rights deals in sports and entertainment. In February 1999, Philips signed a 20-year, $185 million deal to brand Philips Arena, which opened as the new home of the Hawks and Thrashers, an NHL expansion team (the franchise moved to Winnipeg in 2011). At the time, the agreement, valued at $9.25 million annually, was the richest in sports among all arenas and stadiums with naming rights.
Since that time, new arenas have driven naming-rights dollars higher. The Philips Arena deal, though, has held up over time and remains one of the top deals in the industry. It ranks fifth overall among NBA and NHL facilities, according to research by SportsBusiness Journal, behind Air Canada Centre, which officially becomes Scotiabank Arena on July 1; Chase Center, the Golden State Warriors’ new arena, which is scheduled to open in 2019; Barclays Center; and American Airlines Center.
In Atlanta, the Hawks now have a clean slate to rebrand their building tied to an extensive $193 million renovation, which is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2019. The team has talked with consultants about hiring them to help negotiate a new naming rights agreement. On their own, the Hawks have had discussions with potential naming rights partners, sources said.
Internally, Andrew Saltzman is the Hawks' executive vice president and chief revenue officer. In December, the team hired Michael Drake as senior vice president of corporate partnerships and premium sales. Drake came from Legends Global Sales, where he ran premium seat sales for new NFL stadiums for the Falcons and 49ers.
Philips Arena was one of eight big league arenas that opened in 1999. Of that total, three other arenas — AmericanAirlines Arena, Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Pepsi Center — also have 20-year naming rights deals set to expire in 2019.