NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- Facility naming rights are a great idea, at least until the company in big bright letters is as broke as the fan who just paid $8 for a beer inside its building.The folks at Eastman Kodak didn't mind having their name on Los Angeles' Kodak Theatre while stars were lining its red carpet for the Oscars and tomorrow's one-hit wonders were belting out stale pop songs from its American Idol stage. When Kodak went bankrupt this year, the $75 million it dropped on the theater's naming rights in 2001 seemed as bad as an investment as a 35mm camera in an all-digital world. Bye-bye Kodak, hello Dolby ( DLB) Theatre. Bankruptcies and scandals are particularly painful to the sports world, where every multimillion-dollar stadium is practically built with a "This Space For Rent" sign on its facade. Citigroup ( C) stayed on the New York Mets' Citi Field after the company took $45 billion in bailouts. Air Canada and United Airlines' ( UAL) names stayed on arenas in Toronto and Chicago, respectively, as those companies battled bankruptcy and shed jobs. Those were just the companies that recovered. CNNMoney found that of the 60 publicly traded sponsors with names on sporting facilities, 37 of them (62%) have had their stocks slip in the past 12 months. Their value dropped an average 21%, compared with a 2.4% uptick in the S&P 500 during the same span. Here are just 10 examples of stadium and arena naming deals in which the companies involved didn't foresee a financial losing streak:
Home of: The Oklahoma City Thunder (NBA)
Cost of naming rights: $3 million a year
Home of: The Houston Astros (MLB)
Cost of naming rights: $3.3 million a year
If you think a team won't just rip a broke company's name off its building, you obviously haven't had a glass of OJ in Minute Maid park.When Ken Lay and his room full of smart guys drove energy giant Enron into the ground with an accounting scandal that bankrupted the company in 2001, the Astros were in no mood to keep the company's name on the building. Astros fans lost jobs and retirement savings as a result of Enron's fraudulent dealings, and the Astros were in no mood to see how the legal case against the company played out. The Enron scandal hit in late 2001 and by February 2002, the Astros had bought back the naming rights for $2.1 million. The team ripped out all the Enron logos in time for opening day and Coca-Cola ( KO) bought the naming rights that June. The rechristened Minute Maid Park hasn't referenced the "E" word since.
Home of: The New England Patriots (NFL)
Cost of naming rights: $7.6 million a year
Never heard of CMGI Stadium, you say? No worries. Neither has anyone else.The tech and venture capital company was set to paste its logo all over the Patriots' new home field for 15 years when it agreed to a $114 million naming rights deal in 2000. That agreement didn't even make it to the stadium's first kickoff. The tech bubble burst and CMGI was reduced to a penny stock before fading into obscurity as ModusLink Global Solutions ( MLNK). Gillette, meanwhile, picked up the tab and had great seats for the Patriots' perfect regular season in 2008, its five Super Bowl runs in the past 11 years and its three championships.
Home of: The Baltimore Ravens (NFL)
Cost of naming rights: $5.3 million a year
During the dot-com era, there was no better way to say "this company won't be here in a decade" than to put its name on a stadium.For those of you who don't remember that period or blocked out the losses with some extraordinarily selective amnesia, PSINet was one of the nation's first Internet service providers. In the spirit of the times, PSINet bought itself some stadium naming rights in 1999 and just waited for the money to start flowing in. Two years later, and just after the Ravens won their first Super Bowl, PSINet went bankrupt and its stadium signage was thrown into the same scrapheap as the Pets.com sock puppet. M&T Bank ( MTB) eventually took over the rights in 2003.
Home of: The Florida Panthers (NHL)
Cost of naming rights: $2.2 million a year
The Panthers thought they'd get a decent ride out of National when the company bought their arena's naming rights in 1999. It's just a shame National had to hand the rights back in 2002 without filling the tank.National's parent company ANC Rental just wasn't built for that kind of mileage. It was a spinoff of another company, AutoNation, and struggled on its own despite having both the National and Alamo rental brands in its stable. By 2002, ANC was bankrupt and the Panthers had sold their Sunrise, Fla., building's naming rights to BankAtlantic ( BBX).
Home of: The Tennessee Titans (NHL)
Cost of naming rights: $2 million a year
How bad was Adelphia as a naming partner? So bad that when the company filed for bankruptcy in 2002, the Titans' stadium in Nashville went without a sponsor until 2006.Adelphia bought the Coliseum's naming rights in 1999, but likely didn't consider what that purchase would do to its books. The company's hierarchy hid $2.3 billion in debt from shareholders while its officers pocketed $100 million for themselves. Adelphia ended up missing a payment on the naming rights in 2002 as a result, but that was only an omen of worse to come. Adelphia was eventually carved up by Time Warner Cable ( TWC) and Comcast ( CMCSA). The Coliseum's naming rights were sold in 2006 to Louisiana Pacific ( LPX), which renamed the building LP Field.
Home of: The St. Louis Rams (NFL)
Cost of naming rights: $1.3 million a year
It's never a good sign when your stadium's sponsor is bankrupt before the stadium even opens.Trans World Airlines played a huge role in helping lure the Rams to St. Louis from Los Angeles, but years of bad contracts and unsustainable discounts were taking their toll. When the Rams arrived in 1995, TWA was already in and out of bankruptcy. By the time the Rams won the Super Bowl in 2000, TWA was already a shell of its former self. It merged with American Airlines ( AMR - Get Report) in 2001 and its name disappeared from the stadium soon after. American didn't pick up the rights, but maybe that wasn't such a bad thing ...
Home of: The Miami Heat (NBA) and Dallas Mavericks (NBA), respectively
Cost of naming rights: More than $8 million a year combined
Spending nearly $9 million a year on arena naming rights alone is just fine when your company's name is on both buildings hosting the NBA Finals, as American's was in 2006 and last year.When your name and logo is stamped all over those buildings just as your company is entering bankruptcy, cutting more than 10,000 jobs and restructuring pensions, it's somewhat less flattering. A year removed from an all-American final between the Heat and the Mavericks, American Airlines has entered bankruptcy, changed chief executives and is mulling a merger with US Airways ( LCC). The arena naming rights are secure for now, but if the Heat continue on to the NBA Finals this year, it may be the last time American Airlines gets them there.
Home of: The Washington Capitals (NHL) and Washington Wizards (NBA)
Cost of naming rights: $2.2 million a year
This was a pretty sweet deal for D.C. while it lasted. MCI and, later, MCI Worldcom provided steady income for many years after it opened in 1997.It's just those last few years at the end that were pretty nasty. Auditors discovered $3.8 billion in fraudulent activity at WorldCom in 2002 and estimated the company was overvalued by about $11 billion. The company filed for bankruptcy later that year. Though it would eventually emerge again as MCI, there was no saving it. Verizon ( VZ) bought MCI for $7.6 billion in 2005 and took the MCI Center's naming rights with it.