The home of the Miami Dolphins and Miami Hurricanes will be Hard Rock Stadium for the next 18 years after Hard Rock International agreed to pay roughly $250 million as part of a naming rights deal. It will provide a fantastic flow of new revenue for the Miami Dolphins, which had temporarily named the venue "New Miami Stadium" after its naming rights agreement with Sun Life Financial expired in January 2016.
But is it a good deal for Hard Rock International?
"It seems like a strange deal," said Darren Marshall, EVP of Consulting and Research atrEvolution, a sports marketing and media company. "Naming rights deals are normally done where there is a strong home town factor like Target and Minnesota or Coors Field and Denver. True, Hard Rock is owned by the Seminole Tribe as of 2007 (and HQ has been in Orlando since) but its roots are English. In my opinion, people still view them as a British origin chain, especially the restaurants, which makes it strange. The other reason folks do it is for a new brand name or rebranding to get exposure, but again not a factor."
Marshall's references are to Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins, and Coors Field, where the Colorado Rockies call home. As Marshall notes, the Seminole Tribe owns Hard Rock and runs theSeminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in nearby Hollywood, Florida. Yet he still doesn't find the local connection strong enough to call the $250 million guaranteed spend a good deal.
"There's no real B2B benefit and it's hard to see how it would drive traffic directly," said Marshall. "My guess would be - there's one or more huge Dolphins fans in the Tribe. Average attendance is 65,000 for 8 [home] games, less 20% children plus the fee means you're paying over $34 per person to get them to go to the casino assuming every single adult went."
That is certainly one way to dissect the deal, which also guarantees Hard Rock's name to be associated with a forthcoming Super Bowl that Hard Rock Stadium will host in 2020. But as stated, the Dolphins share the stadium with the Hurricanes. There are also many concerts and special events held at the facility. So maybe the deal isn't as strange as Marshall may suggest.