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Seaport concert venue in search of a name

Bank of America to end sponsorship deal

The naming rights contract for the Bank of America Pavilion was $5 million for fifteen years. It expires this month.
The naming rights contract for the Bank of America Pavilion was $5 million for fifteen years. It expires this month. Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

The Bank of America Pavilion, the site of summertime concerts along the Boston waterfront, will soon be in search of a new name as the financial services giant drops its sponsorship of the venue marked by its signature white tent.

Bank of America, which inherited the naming rights contract after its takeover of FleetBoston Financial Corp. in 2004, won’t renew the agreement when it expires at the end of the month.

The bank, based in Charlotte, N.C., has been retrenching since the financial crisis, shuttering branches, cutting jobs, and scaling back its sponsorship programs.

In 2011, the Bank of America did not renew contracts with nine of 10 NASCAR tracks where it had sponsorship agreements.


“This is a great property for a company looking to build brand locally,” T.J. Crawford, a Bank of America spokesman, said about the pavilion. “While we have some named properties in our portfolio, it is no longer part of our brand strategy.”

Live Nation, which owns the pavilion, said it is in talks with a variety of companies interested in buying the naming rights, said spokeswoman Jacqueline Peterson, who declined to name them. Some local and regional banks said they were approached by Live Nation.

The waterfront amphitheater in the bustling Seaport District attracted a slate of acts this summer that included the Jonas Brothers, Daughtry and 3 Doors Down, and Earth, Wind, and Fire. The expiring contract, signed in 1998, paid Live Nation $5 million over 15 years.

When Bank of America acquired Fleet, it made sense for the bank to keep the pavilion’s naming rights since it was new to the market, said John Verret, associate professor of communications at Boston University. Putting its name on the pavilion was a way for Bank of America to show its commitment to Boston and its desire to “become part of the cultural fiber of the region,” Verret said.


The pavilion deal also was cheaper than Fleet’s other big naming rights deal, the FleetCenter, now the TD Garden and home of the Celtics and Bruins. In 2005, Bank of America agreed to pay between $2 million and $3 million to exit that 15-year, $30 million contract.

A few months later, TD Bank bought the naming right for $6 million a year.

Naming rights are a harder sell to marketing executives these days than before the financial crisis of 2008, Verret said. Companies have tightened their marketing budgets to save money and want to see immediate results from their sponsorship efforts, Verret said.

Naming rights aren’t always cheap and the results aren’t necessarily measurable, he said, but it could help a company trying to raise its profile in the Boston market. He estimated that a short-term naming rights contract for the pavilion would run $400,000 to $500,000 a year.

Sovereign Bank, which will be adopting the name of its parent company, Santander, in October, would be a likely contender to splash its name on the pavilion, Verret said. Santander is a Spanish banking giant, well known in Europe and Latin America, but less familiar in the United States and the Boston market.

Sovereign officials declined to comment on whether they were approached about or considering the naming rights for the pavilion.

“We’re very fortunate in the metro Boston market to have a range of wonderful sponsorship opportunities,” said Mary Ellen Higgins, a Sovereign spokeswoman. “We’re continually assessing options that would be the most meaningful to our customers.”


Deirdre Fernandes can be reached at deirdre.fernandes@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @fernandesglobe.