A name change for Heinz Field could be in the offing, with reports suggesting the company might not renew its current partnership with the Pittsburgh Steelers when it expires in 2021.
Shortly before the facility opened in 2001, the locally based H.J. Heinz Co. struck a naming-rights agreement with the Steelers, resulting in the Heinz Field name that has been on the stadium ever since. However, circumstances surrounding Heinz have changed considerably in recent years. In 2015, the company was acquired by Kraft Foods and now is co-headquartered in Pittsburgh and Chicago as Kraft Heinz, but its presence in Pittsburgh has been gradually diminished and it has experienced recent financial challenges.
With the 2021 expiration of the naming-rights agreement approaching, Sports Business Journal reported Monday–citing industry experts–that the company could ultimately pass on renewing the agreement. The report stated that “while the incumbent hasn’t officially walked, a renewal is highly unlikely.”
In a statement, Heinz emphasized its commitment to the current naming-rights partnership, though it stopped short of refuting speculation that it could pass on a renewal. More from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
In a statement released Monday, the company did not exactly sack such speculation, committing only to finishing out the last two years of its current agreement.
“Kraft Heinz and the Pittsburgh Steelers have enjoyed a long and beneficial relationship over the past 18 years,” it said. “Both organizations are committed to the partnership for at least the next two seasons and we look forward to ongoing discussions related to the future.”
A Steelers spokesman gave a nearly identical statement.
The current naming-rights agreement between the Steelers and Heinz, first announced in June 2001, is for $57 million over 20 years.
Image courtesy Pittsburgh Steelers.