Citizens Bank gets naming rights for Boston Opera House
“Citizens Bank Opera House” sounds like sweet music to venue owner Don Law’s ears.
Law has signed a 10-year naming rights contract with Providence-based Citizens for the Boston Opera House, which he owns with David Mugar.
A parallel contract will bring the Citizens name to three other Boston venues that Law oversees separately as president of Live Nation New England and Crossroads Presents: the Orpheum Theatre, the Paradise Rock Club, and Brighton Music Hall. Those technically aren’t naming-rights deals; Neither Live Nation nor Law own the buildings. But the contract means the words “presented by Citizens Bank” will appear on the venues’ marquees.
It marks the first time these kinds of corporate sponsorships have been put in place at the four venues, Law said. The financial details were not disclosed.
Law said those who attend concerts and other live performances in Boston are already familiar with naming rights deals — think TD Garden, the Rockland Trust Bank Pavilion, and the Boch Center.
The money will help ensure that the 1920s-era Opera House can be properly maintained, Law said, and that reasonable rents can be continued for Broadway in Boston and the Boston Ballet, both of which are tenants.
“Maintaining a venue that’s creeping up on almost 100 years old, that’s always a challenge,” Mugar said.
The sponsorship for the music venues, Law said, will help support up-and-coming rock bands. With the shift away from album sales to low-paying streaming services, touring has become an increasingly important way for musicians to make a living.
“This kind of sponsorship makes it possible to take more risks, to support more artists,” Law said.
There’s another advantage: Law said Live Nation will use some of the proceeds to start an affinity program aimed at rewarding frequent visitors to the venues, something that has been a longtime goal for the company. Law said the Boston program might become a model that could be rolled out in other Live Nation markets.
Citizens is the second-largest retail bank in Massachusetts, after Bank of America, and in recent years has prioritized supporting the arts. It considers the agreements with Law a natural next step in that mission.
“A vibrant local economy has an arts culture that is really thriving,” said Jerry Sargent, Citizens Bank’s Massachusetts president. “As we think about where we are putting our resources and making investments, this fits right down the center of the fairway for us.”
Sargent also sees the sponsorship of the concert venues as a way to get the bank’s name in front of millennials. “This gives us an opportunity to connect with that audience in a new way,” he said.
The partnership will allow the bank to offer benefits to its customers, such as opportunities to skip lines and to buy tickets before they go on sale to the general public.
Citizens had arranged the financing that Mugar and Law needed when they purchased the 2,500-seat Opera House 10 years ago.
But Law said the latest deal came about through a recommendation from friends at Fenway Sports Management who had heard that Citizens was wanting to do more with the music and entertainment business. Law said he was impressed by the wide-ranging approach that Citizens is taking toward underwriting live performances in the city.
“We had been approached about naming rights before,” Law said of the Opera House. “[But] it made a lot more sense to do this.”