Saints, Mercedes-Benz agree to 10-year stadium naming deal

NEW ORLEANS -- The home of the Saints and site of six Super Bowls will be renamed the Mercedes-Benz Superdome under a deal with the German automaker announced Tuesday.

The deal will allow Mercedes-Benz USA to have its name associated with championships in college and professional football and men's college basketball over the next 16 months -- plus an NFL team that has gone from a doormat to Super Bowl winner. The stadium also hosted a Republican presidential convention and a visit from the pope, and itonce served as refuge for thousands of miserable victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The Saints hold authority to sell naming rights to the 73,000-seat, state-owned stadium through their lease, which runs through 2025.

A price for the 10-year naming-rights deal wasn't disclosed. Gov. Bobby Jindal said the agreement was between the Saints and Mercedes-Benz -- and the automaker had asked not to have the price released to the public.

Mercedes-Benz also owns naming rights to arenas in Shanghai and in Stuttgart, Germany. The Superdome is the company's first such venture in the United States.

Gov. Bobby Jindal called the agreement "a great partnership between two world-class organizations" and touted the savings that taxpayers would enjoy by elimination of a state payment to the team.

Superdome manager Doug Thornton said the addition of the naming-rights deal to extra revenues from new seats, luxury boxes and expanded concession stands and clubs will eliminate the state's payment, which he said totaled $13.8 million last year. That revenue deal went into effect with the current NFL season.

The Superdome opened in 1975. It has gone through many renovations, including a massive rebuild after Katrina ripped off its roof when the storm struck in August 2005.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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