Move over, Rockland Trust. It’s Leader Bank’s turn to have its name in the harbor lights.
The Arlington bank has signed a seven-year naming rights deal to sponsor Live Nation’s Seaport concert venue, which is being dubbed Leader Bank Pavilion as of Monday. Leader made the move after Rockland decided not to renew the contract it inherited when it acquired the waterfront amphitheater’s previous sponsor, Blue Hills Bank.
Leader’s decision to sign a multiyear, multimillion-dollar agreement comes amid uncertainty about when concerts will start up again after live music went on a prolonged hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic. TD Garden and Fenway Park in recent weeks resumed admitting sports fans, with severe occupancy limits. But economics and ticketing logistics make it more difficult for major concert venues to reopen with such limited capacities. Many music fans still have tickets to sold-out shows that were put off from 2020.
Leader’s president, Jay Tuli, said he remains confident that live music will return this summer to the pavilion. If local COVID restrictions prevent that from happening, he said, Leader has an option to extend the contract.
“We had some thought going into it that 2021 could be a risk, [but] all signs are showing we will have concerts this year,” Tuli said. “We just don’t know when.”
Tuli said this is the first major naming-rights deal for the bank. He declined to disclose the financial terms with Live Nation. Blue Hills, and subsequently Rockland Trust, paid just over $300,000 a year.
Rockland’s decision last year to back away from the sponsorship came at an opportune time for Leader, which has grown aggressively during the pandemic and has ambitious plans to continue. The bank’s total assets rose 37.5 percent last year, to $2.2 billion from $1.6 billion. Leader also added 90 net new positions, to increase its workforce to about 350 employees.
Leader, perhaps best known for its mortgage business, benefited from the hot residential real estate market, which was in turn lifted up by unusually low interest rates. Many banks have been hammered by the low rates, which can make it harder to earn a profit on loans, but that math apparently worked out positively for Leader.
Tuli said Leader plans to more than double its marketing and promotions budget for 2021, compared to last year, including the new spending on the pavilion sponsorship. Leader is also unveiling a new logo, to coincide with the Live Nation deal.
Leader’s ascendancy is particularly noteworthy considering these two facts: It has not made any acquisitions to get to its current level of assets, and the bank is one of the few in Massachusetts launched within the past two decades. Tuli’s father, Sushil Tuli, opened it in 2002 to take advantage of a growing void created as other community banks disappeared amid a surge of M&A activity at the time.
“We’re now thinking long-term, what we want to be in five or 10 years,” Tuli said. “We have a lot of the products and services that the big banks have. We’re now ready to invest in our branding . . . The Pavilion helps us accomplish that goal.”
Live Nation has rotated through a number of bank sponsors over the years: BankBoston, FleetBoston, and Bank of America all took turns after each successive merger. Blue Hills Bank started a new line of succession in time for the 2014 concert season. Then Rockland took over two years ago.
Don Law, president of Live Nation’s New England operations, said he was happy another local bank had landed the latest sponsorship for the 5,200-seat pavilion.
“Dedication to the local community is of the utmost importance to us,” Law said in a statement. “We are thrilled to have a partner like Leader Bank whose reputation is synonymous with community as we write the iconic Pavilion’s next chapter.”