Landshark Stadium?

A-B may get naming rights to home of the Dolphins in unique deal

Several reports out of Florida have the Dolphins selling the name of their 22-year-old home field to Anheuser-Busch brand Landshark Lager, a beer licensed under singer Jimmy Buffett’s umbrella Margaritaville brand. Sources said it was a one-year deal, which would mean the brand would get exposure as the site for the 2010 Pro Bowl and Super Bowl XLIV, where A-B enjoys on-air category exclusivity through 2012.

On the surface, it does not make sense that A-B, in the midst of budget cutbacks after its $52 billion purchase by InBev, would make a large investment in a small brand like Landshark. However, sources close to the deal said Buffett will help pay for the deal by playing two shows at the stadium at little or no cost. That would allow the Dolphins to cash in on huge gate receipts, whereas Buffett normally takes the bulk — one source said 90 percent — of tickets and concessions for his popular shows. This would be both the shortest naming-rights deal for any NFL stadium, and the only one paid for by musical performances. Several reports also have Buffet looking at a Margaritaville-themed section within what is now Dolphin Stadium.

The Dolphins have been trying to sell the stadium’s name for 10 years since Fruit of the Loom, parent of Pro Player which once entitled the field, declared bankruptcy. They had recently been in talks with Metro PCS, with pricing between $10 million and $15 million a year.

Sources said an official announcement was originally scheduled for May 8. Since MillerCoors owns the beer marketing rights for the NFL and Super Bowl, expect the politics to get contentious over whether the name will be officially recognized and used by league broadcasters. Both MillerCoors and A-B are among the top spenders on NFL telecasts. Spokespersons from the NFL and A-B had no comment.

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