Bankers Life Fieldhouse has a new name, and it’s a name that many IndyCar fans are familiar with.
The 18,000-seat downtown Indianapolis venue is now called Gainbridge Fieldhouse, thanks to a multi-year sponsorship agreement between Pacers Sports & Entertainment and Indianapolis-based insurance holding company Group One Thousand One LLC, the company mother of Gainbridge Insurance Agency LLC.
Gainbridge, an online annuities and life insurance agency, is also the main sponsor of the Indianapolis 500 and various other sporting properties.
Financial terms and duration of the deal, announced Monday morning, were not disclosed. Although the property is owned by the Marion County Capital Improvement Council, it is managed by Pacers Sports and Entertainment, with the help of a government grant.
The deal is the first naming rights partnership for the arena that the Pacers have signed since the site opened in 1999. The arena has been known as Bankers Life since late 2011 and was previously called Conseco Fieldhouse in the United States. part of a 20-year agreement with Carmel. -based at Conseco Inc., now CNO Financial Group. CNO is the parent company of Banker’s Life and Casualty Co.
Rick Fuson, COO of Pacers Sports & Entertainment, told IBJ that talks with Group One Thousand One, which operates as Group 1001, have been going on for more than two years and involved a small team of leaders of Pacers.
“This is the kind of situation we expected,” he said. “I can tell you that having been in the business for 38 years, I think we have the best partnership you can find. We’re so excited about it, I think it’s going to be one of the best ever. “
The partnership is expected to include additional Gainbridge naming opportunities throughout the resort after a $ 360 million renovation of the building is completed in mid-2022. While details are scarce, these could include a dedicated area in the lobby, as well as Gainbridge signage throughout the building.
Fuson said Group 1001 and the Pacers “will be partners in a lot of things going forward.”
Todd Taylor, senior vice president and director of sales and marketing for Pacers Sports & Entertainment, said an internal team continues to have conversations with executives at Gainbridge and Group 1001 about what shape the partnership could take. .
“The great thing about it is that they are partners immediately, we will have about a year to fix this and figure out how we’re going to make a splash on opening night next year.”
He said that although there were other potential partners he declined to identify, Gainbridge was “the right fit” for the Pacers’ culture and values.
The deal with CNO, valued by experts at around $ 2 million per year, has been extended in the short term beyond its expiration in 2019 to give PSE more time to find a new partner.
“We had some important conversations,” Taylor said. “What we always want to do… is create healthy competition. I think it improves the end result, in terms of getting anyone involved in this process. We had conversations, we went far enough [on] and then, for one reason or another, we determined that was not necessarily the right solution at the time.
Dan Towriss, CEO of Group 1001 and Gainbridge, told IBJ he hopes the partnership will go beyond naming rights to cement the company as a powerful player in central Indiana, while taking steps to become more involved in the Indianapolis community.
“From my perspective, what we’re hoping to bring is increased energy to what’s already there – there’s a buzz about the building,” and its massive improvements, he said. “Even when you see the name on the building, we hope there is a boldness and an energy to it, and through the activation we are adding to what is already a special place.”
Gainbridge was founded in 2018 as a division of Group 1001, which was previously known as Delaware Life Holdings. Group 1001 has combined assets under management of approximately $ 44 billion, with brands such as Gainbridge, Delaware Life and Clear Spring. The company employs approximately 780 people in its businesses, including 200 people in Indianapolis.
Taylor said Gainbridge has a presence in the local market through its sponsorship of not only the Indianapolis 500 but also the # 26 Andretti Autosport car driven by Colton Herta and the Ball’s indoor football training facility. State University.
The company also sponsors other sporting events, including the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach and the LPGA Tournament.
“We saw that as a big positive, their commitment here,” he said. “To me, it shows that they have a better vision of how they can have a very positive impact on Indianapolis and the State of Indiana.”
“I think it shows a pretty big commitment to the things that are important to this community – you think Indianapolis, it’s usually running, basketball and definitely the Colts do a great job too,” Taylor said. . “But I think sport is important to the city and the more Gainbridge is involved, especially if it is used as a means to do good, then that makes him the right partner.”
Taylor declined to share financial details of the deal, but said “the dollars are quite comparable” to other naming rights deals that have been executed in mid-sized markets in recent years.
“I will just say that we are certainly very happy to have them as a partner, and we think it was a fair deal on both sides,” he said.
In recent times, most of the NBA’s deals have grossed tens of millions of dollars. A 19-year deal between the FTX cryptocurrency exchange and the Miami Heat, finalized in March, is worth around $ 135 million. And the Oklahoma City Thunder agreed to consider Paycom as a partner in a 15-year deal that CNBC said was no more than $ 100 million.
One of the last naming rights deals signed in the NBA was the one between the Los Angeles Clippers and TurboTax parent company Intuit, which will name a new $ 1.2 billion arena in Inglewood, Calif., On Intuit. Dome when it opens in 2024. The 23-year deal announced this month is said to be worth more than $ 500 million, or $ 21.7 million per year.
Taylor said the contract with Gainbridge was for more than seven years but less than 20 years – the length of the Pacers’ deal with Conseco in the 1990s.
“We weren’t in a rush, and we didn’t want someone who was just going to be a quick flip,” he said. “The trend for naming rights agreements in some places is to have a name on the building for a little while, which is better than not having a name on the building. But in our particular case, we thought it was better to wait, and we don’t want to rename this building every two or three years.
He said the deal with Gainbridge is typical of most deals, with an initial term and an option to extend.
“In this particular case, we would love to have Gainbridge here for 20 years,” Taylor said.
Temporary signage is expected to be installed at the renowned field by the end of Monday, with permanent signage expected ahead of the 2022-2023 NBA season.