There’s been as much focus off the field in the Bengals’ front office leading up to this football season as on the gridiron with Cincinnati bouncing back from its first Super Bowl appearance in over 30 years.
The expectations for the Bengals are higher than ever, for now at least. Cincinnati’s most recent Super Bowl run, however, seems to have forced a seismic shift in how the franchise will operate as a business for many seasons to come.
The Bengals were one of three NFL teams without a corporate-sponsored stadium until August 9 this offseason. Our hometown team inked its first stadium naming rights agreement with Paycor, a locally-based payroll and HR management firm, over the next 16 seasons for what experts are valuing at around $7 to 9 million per year.
While the stadium no longer honors franchise founder Paul Brown in its name and signage, the change is strictly business for his son Mike, team owner.
“It will help the franchise do some things that needed to be done,” Brown said of the revenue from the naming rights deal. “We need to stay competitive with other, often bigger, NFL markets’ revenue.”
There isn’t a better brand fit for the organization’s first corporate stadium naming rights deal either. Paycor’s mantra just so happens to be, “Building winning teams.” The Bengals have some experience in that department, going from 14 losses to a title-contending juggernaut in two short years.
Because the team has five nationally-televised, prime time games on their schedule, the front office is capitalizing on the extra airtime with corporate partnerships. And even as the Bengals start drawing more eyeballs outside Cincinnati, many of their featured sponsors still hail from the Tri-State area.
The next major deal the team made was with Kettering Health, replacing TriHealth as its official healthcare provider. Kettering Health earned practice field naming rights and could eventually do the same for the team’s first-ever indoor facility, another offseason development directly linked to the team’s Super Bowl run. February practices at University of Cincinnati will soon be a thing of the past.
The Bengals are now in business with altafiber, formerly known as Cincinnati Bell, as well as sports betting partner Betfred. They have their names on the stadium’s northwest and northeast entrance gates, respectively, another first in franchise history. altafiber also provides Paycor Stadium with an upgraded Wi-Fi network, while Betfred awaits the January 1, 2023 legalization of sports gambling in Ohio for an increased stadium presence.
Northern Kentucky-based Canvus Cocktails has become the official canned cocktail of the Bengals, boasting a special edition White Bengal can and a standalone bar overlooking the field.
Head coach Zac Taylor’s love for a food group’s world-famous Brussels sprouts and kale salad turned into a sponsorship opportunity, too. Bengals players, coaches and staff have been regulars at E+O Kitchen for a few years, and that relationship has since evolved into an official partnership. E+O now serves sushi at suite and club levels and could easily see its offerings expand throughout the stadium.
And that’s just scratching the surface for what the corporate partnerships team has managed to unlock this offseason. Bengals administration deserve as much credit as the players and coaches for maturing into a competitive organization with the spotlight in their direction.
Even if it’s meant going off script and against their tendencies, the front office has accounted for the team’s elevated status and welcomed this newfound national attention while developing the Cincinnati Bengals’ brand around local, like-minded partners.