The Western Conference champions -- the Dallas Mavericks -- play in the American Airlines Center. The Eastern Conference champions -- the Miami Heat -- play in the American Airlines Arena. Guess who stands to make boatloads of cash when the two teams meet in the 2011 NBA Finals? That's right: American Airlines.
CNBC.com reportsthat the airline company could gain as much as $95.9 million of exposure if a Mavericks-Heat Finals went seven games.
Perhaps the most incredible part of this financial calculation is that CNBC reports that American Airlines paid $42 million for the naming rights to the Heat's arena for 20 years back in 2000. That breaks down to a little more than $2 million per season, far less than the company paid for Dallas' naming rights ($6.5 million per year for thirty years). CNBC runs the numbers to note...
Front Row Marketing's Eric Smallwood took into account the placement of the signs inside each arena and told CNBC that every game in Dallas would be worth $10,515,000 to American Airlines and every game in Miami would be worth $10,729,500, thanks in part to a larger "AA" logo on the center scoreboard.
If the finals is a sweep, the airline would get $42 million in equivalent advertising time, the exact amount the American Airlines paid for 20 years of rights to the Miami arena. If the series goes seven games, Smallwood calculates that American will get $95.9 million in exposure.
To earn back a full return on a 20-year investment in one series -- in its worst case scenario -- is a phenomenal financial situation.
But let's not stop there: consider the future possibilities. If the Heat continue to make the Finals -- and they'll be the odds on favorite every season over the next three to five years -- the company would stand to gain something like $20 million per appearance in exposure, even if Dallas doesn't advance make it ever again.
Realistically, what's stopping Miami from making five Finals appearances in the next decade? Nothing. And that could turn into $100 million, or far more (depending on how long each series lasts), in exposure.
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have been lauded for putting together a modern superteam. Heat president Pat Riley has been hailed as an amazing executive for putting it all together to land Big 3.
But isn't the clear winner in this entire situation is whoever was able to negotiate that naming rights deal on behalf of American Airlines? What a ridiculous return. For a company that operates high in the sky, American was smart to get in on the ground floor.