IT'S been the flagship Aussie branding opportunity for UAE-based airline Etihad for more than six years, and now the door is open for some of the world's biggest corporations to get a slice of the action.
Etihad Stadium has launched a campaign to sell eight new sponsorship deals for the iconic property with prices starting about $450,000 to as much as $750,000 a year.
While Etihad retains the naming rights to the stadium itself, the new exclusive branding opportunities will be attached to various sections within the sporting and events venue.
Colliers International's Ben Tremellen and Cam Taranto have been appointed to conduct a global expressions-of-interest campaign for the rights which at worst could earn the stadium an extra $4 million-plus a year.
Etihad currently has naming rights to the 53,000-seat stadium, previously known as Telstra Dome, until 2019 after renewing in 2012. The current deal is said to be worth between $5 million and $8 million, although financial details have never been disclosed.
The new initiative could potentially double annual revenue for the Docklands facility, the home of AFL and which is destined to be handed to the league in 2025 for as much as $270 million.
"This is a marketing initiative unlike any we've previously seen in Australia," says Tremellen, Colliers International's director of retail leasing.
"It is the biggest branding opportunity for businesses to see their brand up in lights both inside and outside of one of the nation's most recognised sporting stadiums.
"There will be eight slices of Etihad Stadium on offer. These eight zones will incorporate fantastic brand exposure right from the concourse, through the walk-ways and lifts with dedicated connected stadium inventory and seating zones.
"We are looking for a diverse selection of brands in order to create a range of experiences for the consumer from zone to zone.
"Under the concept, it's feasible that prominent brands could obtain, for instance, exclusive branding over the stadium's nine access gates or an array of areas within the venue's seating bowl.
"Another business might be specifically interested in having their brand emblazoned on a series of seating bays at Level 3 directly under the giant sign, denoting the famous Lockett or Coventry ends of the Stadium."
Etihad Stadium CEO Paul Sergeant says the stadium's management team took inspiration from New York City's Metlife Stadium where the branding initiative has been implemented.
"The activations are popular and increase stadium yields which potentially amount to a win-win for all our key users," says Sergeant.
"We're at the embryonic stage but we know already brands will be interested we host 80-plus arena events a year with virtually all taking place under the gaze of a live television audience.
"The brands will also have full use of the venue's connected stadium technology which includes access to 1500 HD screens through our Internet Protocol TV (IPTV network), as well as engagement with our dedicated stadium app."
Etihad Stadium is managed by Melbourne Stadiums Ltd, which is essentially owned by major Australian superannuation funds.
The latest initiative is aimed at bolstering returns to members as well as the asking price from the AFL, the property's major tenant, ahead of the expected 2025 handover.
It has been suggested the handover could come earlier than expected, although the asking price remains a point of contention for the league which has had a prickly association with the stadium management since the stadium was developed in 2000.
The expressions of interest campaign for naming rights will close on October 1.
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