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Tribune News Service
Tribune News Service
Mark Belko

Heinz Field becomes Acrisure Stadium in new naming rights deal

PITSSBURGH — Goodbye, Heinz Field. Hello, Acrisure Stadium.

Acrisure, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based fintech company with ties to Steelers minority owner Thomas Tull, has secured the naming rights for the North Shore stadium for the next 15 years. The Steelers confirmed the arrangement in a statement released Monday afternoon. A press conference is planned for Tuesday.

The deal will end the two-decades-long relationship between two of Pittsburgh's iconic franchises — the Steelers and Heinz, whose name has been synonymous with the football venue since it opened in 2001. A statement from Kraft Heinz on Monday indicated it had been interested in retaining the name.

Acrisure, headed by co-founder and CEO Greg Williams, will take over the naming rights immediately, in time for the 2022 season, the Steelers stated.

"We are excited to partner with Acrisure for the naming rights to our stadium," Steelers President Art Rooney II said in a statement. "Acrisure provided us with an opportunity to ensure our stadium continues to be a valuable asset for our fans as well as keeping up with the market value of NFL stadiums. We are very appreciative to partner with Greg Williams and his company, and we look forward to a long, beneficial relationship for years to come."

Acrisure, a fast-growing global insurance brokerage, may not be well known to fans in the Steel City but it does have a connection.

Two years ago, the company acquired the insurance practice of artificial intelligence company Tulco LLC, whose chairman and CEO is Mr. Tull.

Tulco became a significant minority shareholder in Acrisure as part of that transaction, according to a statement released at the time.

Mr. Tull, a billionaire film producer, also has an ownership stake in the Steelers.

"This is a great partnership and will have a tremendous impact on both organizations as well as the greater Pittsburgh community. The Steelers and Acrisure share the same core values of winning and excellence and I could not be prouder to be partnered with both," he said in a statement.

'More than we could justify'

Kraft Heinz, as H.J. Heinz, paid $57 million over 20 years for the naming rights in 2021 when the stadium opened. It subsequently reached a deal to extend the rights through the 2021 season.

The food giant, which claims dual headquarters in Pittsburgh and Chicago, indicated Monday in a statement that it was outbid for the rights.

"While we worked diligently with the Steelers for several months around a new naming rights deal, they found a new partner willing to pay significantly more than we could justify," according to the company's statement.

"While our name will no longer be on the stadium, Heinz will remain a significant, long-term sponsor of the Steelers and we're excited to announce the details of our new partnership in the days ahead," it stated.

"Kraft Heinz is committed to its ongoing support of the Steelers and the Pittsburgh community, in a city that is our co-headquarters. In addition to our partnership with the Steelers, we look forward to our continued support of organizations such as the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and Grow Pittsburgh, as well as sponsorship of events like Picklesburgh, among others."

Mr. Williams, a lifelong Steelers fan, described the naming rights deal as an "opportunity of a lifetime and a tremendous honor" while calling the Steelers an "institution in American sports."

"Through Acrisure Stadium, we will increase awareness of the extraordinary advantage Acrisure brings our clients while conveying our strong sense of community. Relatedly, we are eager to invest in the Pittsburgh community and broader region as we chart our course to an unforgettable first season. This relationship truly embodies and aligns two organizations that have high standards and are determined to achieve great things," he said in the Steelers announcement.

According to the Steelers, the partnership with Acrisure will enable the franchise to continue to invest in stadium amenities and aesthetics, including new stadium identification for this year.

The partnership also includes community initiatives aimed at providing a deep connection for Acrisure in the Pittsburgh community and brand recognition both locally and nationally to support the company's growth, the team stated.

Acrisure reached a 10-year deal earlier this year to put its name on an arena being built in Palms Springs, Calif.

Analyzing naming rights deals

While financial terms of the new Pittsburgh deal were not known, Marc Ganis, a Chicago-based sports consultant, estimated that the stadium's naming rights could be worth as much as $10 million to $18 million a year given the prominence and success of the Steelers.

Acrisure certainly brings some financial heft to the table. Its revenues have grown from $38 million to more than $3.8 billion over the last eight years as it has expanded its global footprint. It has more than 14,000 employees and operations in more than 14 countries. It also appears to have dealings with several brokers in the Pittsburgh area.

A lesser known company like Acrisure may have been willing to pay more for the rights than others in order to increase its name recognition and to gain more prestige by being associated with such a storied franchise and the National Football League as a whole.

"It could be very beneficial to them financially so they would be willing to pay more money," Mr. Ganis said.

At the same time, he acknowledged the change in the name probably won't sit well with some Steelers fans.

"There's always some melancholy when a name is taken off a local sports facility. There will be people who will always call it Heinz Field," he said.

He noted that the "connection of Pittsburgh and the Heinz company and the Steelers has been a great brand ambassador" for the ketchup maker, the region and the franchise for the last two decades.

"There's something to be said for a local company to be the title sponsor of one of the most visible assets in the community," he added.

In recent years, lesser known companies like and FTX US have been securing naming rights deals for prominent sports venues. But in many cities, deals are often done with locally based corporations, Mr. Ganis noted.

Examples include the United Center in Chicago, Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte and Citi Field in New York.

"It is not always the case, but it is often the case where a local company identified with that region or one that has major business in that region takes the naming rights," he said.

Some recent blockbuster naming rights deals for NFL stadiums include SoFi, which is reportedly spending $30 million annually for 20 years for the football venue in Los Angeles and Allegiant Airlines, which is shelling out up to $25 million a year for the new Raiders' home in Las Vegas.

Deals for venues in smaller markets typically are running in the "mid to high single digits" millions, Mr. Ganis said, although he expects the Heinz Field rights to be more because the "Steelers add quite a bit" to the equation.

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