Banco Popular signs sponsorship deal with Marlins
By Suzy Valentine
The Florida Marlins have signed a two-year sponsorship deal with a bank that is consolidating its position in Miami-Dade County, although the team's future here remains uncertain.
The Marlins have agreed to a deal with Puerto Rico-based Banco Popular North America effective immediately to run until 2007, said Juan Carlos Cruz, the bank's vice president of public relations and communications.
The team has entered an agreement with the bank "within the past month," said its president David Samson, though he would not disclose details of the contract, saying only that such agreements typically included signage rights, ticket advertising and night-game giveaways.
"It covers rotational signage, tickets and entertainment," said Mr. Cruz, "as well as promotional tie-ins."
The bank's regional executive, Israel Velasco, said the institution would have a sign behind home plate visible from television during one inning of each Marlins game.
On assuming his position at the bank last month, Mr. Velasco said he hoped to take the number of branches in the tri-county area from six to 45 - the number he managed at Colonial Bank.
Mr. Samson would not provide a ballpark figure for the two-year arrangement, saying only that corporate revenues have risen 400% in the past three years.
Sponsorship should help finance the additional $45 million the Marlins need to build a stadium after the state refused to provide financial aid. An agreement for use of Dolphins Stadium runs out 2010. The cost of fitting a retractable roof is upward of $75 million, while building a stadium could cost up to $400 million.
Mr. Samson said he remained in talks with the county and the City of Miami over funding options.
"It's always been the goal of the Marlins to have a successful franchise in South Florida," he said. "We're continuing our conversations with the city and the county on how to fill the funding gap."
The Marlins have also considered a move to Las Vegas, NV - a state in which Banco Popular, with 137 banks in six states, has no presence and no plans to expand.
"We're always looking at different options," said Mr. Cruz, "but there's nothing in the works."
Mr. Samson said a decision on a stadium is months rather than weeks away and a site close to the Orange Bowl remains the team's preference.
"We're talking on a daily basis," he said, rebutting the suggestion that the county commission's summer recess could slow negotiations. "Summer is our busiest season in baseball."