Mumbai’s iconic Wankhede Stadium may be renamed after a ‘brand’

Mumbai's iconic Wankhede Stadium may be renamed after a 'brand'
Wankhede Stadium

Mumbai’s iconic Wankhede Stadium might become the nation’s first venue to get rechristened with the sponsor’s name, if a deal between the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) and advertising firm DDB Mudra comes through.

Built in 1974, the venue was named after its builder S K Wankhede, who was also the president of the Bombay Cricket Association in the 1970s.

A top official in the know about the development told TOI, “Yes, we’re in talks to brand the stadium, which might have a sponsor’s name prefixed or suffixed to the existing name. We expect a sharp fall in revenues allocated to state associations once the Lodha reforms are implemented, since the pie has to be shared by the northeast states too. We’ve to do something to generate funds.”

“Saheb (MCA president Sharad Pawar) has formed an ad-hoc committee for this purpose, which includes all office-bearers, marketing committee chairman Navin Shetty and the CEO C S Naik. This committee will explore DDB Mudra Group’s proposal. It met them on Wednesday, and will meet them on Monday again,” he added.

The proposal sent by DDB Mudra Group’s executive director Aneil Deepak to Pawar states, “Naming rights is one avenue where cricket associations can generate large revenues. It’s a financial transaction and form of advertising whereby a corporation or other entity purchases the right to name a facility or an event, typically for a defined period of time. A presenting sponsor attaches the name of the corporation or brand at the start or end of a generic, usually traditional name.”

“There are a number of stadiums the world over that are named after brands. Stadiums have been named after brands in the US, Australia, Japan, China, Finland, Canada, Israel and Germany , where eight of the ten largest football stadiums have their naming rights sold to corporate sponsors…In cricket, the most famous example is The Oval, home of the Surrey County cricket club. It has had several sponsors over the years, and is currently known as the Kia Oval,” it adds.

Per the deal, the sponsor shall have the exclusive right to use the naming rights references in all public relations and marketing materials. The cricket association will have to use all reasonable efforts to cause all media and third parties in contact with the stadium to use the new name.

According to reports, Wankhede Stadium has an advertising value equivalent of Rs 48 crore per annum. Keeping that in mind, the advertiser is expected to bid anywhere between Rs 100-120 crore.

While most areas of the stadium can be rebranded, some are bound to remain the same per the original contract. For example, Tatas and Garware had both paid 6 lakh and Rs 12 lakh respectively while the stadium was being built on the condition that the two ends will be named after them.

For most Indians, Wankhede Stadium carries a special significance as it was the venue where India defeated Sri Lanka by 6 wickets in the 2011 Cricket World Cup Final to clinch its second one day world title.

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