Heinz Field has been the Steelers’ and Pitt Panthers home since 2001, and while it’s likely to continue to host Pittsburgh’s NFL franchise and top college team for quite some time, it might do so under a different name.
Terry Lefton of Sports Business Daily reported on Monday that Heinz is unlikely to renew its naming rights contract with the Steelers after it expires in 2021.
The 20-year, $57 million contract — a nod to Heinz’s famous 57 varieties slogan — was signed before Heinz was purchased in 2013 by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate and then merged with Kraft Foods in 2015.
The Pittsburgh Pirates’ naming rights deal for next-door PNC Park is set to expire after the 2020 baseball season, setting up a potential battle for sponsors between the North Shore neighbors.
If the Steelers find a suitable partner, they could be in for an increase in the annual value of their naming rights deal. The $2.85 million annually they were getting from Heinz pales in comparison to the one the Los Angeles Rams reportedly signed in May with Social Finance for $20 million annually.
The Steelers’ lease at Heinz Field is current set to expire after the 2031 season, so the team has nine years’ worth of naming rights to sell.
Recent naming rights contracts in the area have gone to PPG Paints, for the Penguins’ Uptown arena in 2016, and to UPMC for the Steelers and Penguins practice facilities and new basketball arenas at Duquesne and Robert Morris.