Should Airports Charge for Naming Rights?

 “A t least the renamed baseball and football stadiums get a corporate name because someone pays for them. If you wanted to charge $10million for a corporate sponsorship of an airport (and therefore reduce ticket prices for passengers), I’d be all for it. But to have the airport renamed for some politician, GMAFB.”

Would you agree with this statement posted yesterday by FlyerTalk member vsevolod4?

I could be an idealist and dream that corporate sponsorship could help lower taxes, reduce the cost of services, provide more services — or perhaps a combination thereof — but unless it was a condition of the deal, the airport would probably keep the money anyway.

Naming rights could also be temporary: have a contract for five years as an example; and the naming rights would go to the highest bidder — whether it is a corporate sponsor or some wealthy individual. One example is where the Atlanta Braves play professional baseball: the current stadium is called Turner Field — I affectionately call it Turn Your Stomach — which is named after Ted Turner; but the new stadium currently being constructed in Cobb County northwest of Atlanta projected to open in time for the 2017 baseball season will be called SunTrust Park, which I briefly discuss in this article I posted back on November 14, 2014 pertaining to a regional airport in the Atlanta area which is positioning itself to compete with the main international airport. SunTrust is a bank which purchased the naming rights to the new stadium. The exact cost of those naming rights are not readily known — although they were factored into the projected cost of $622 million to construct the stadium and its mixed-use surroundings.

In fact, airlines already have been paying for naming rights of stadiums and arenas for years, as extracted from this list by ESPN:

Stadium Name


Home Teams

Average Dollars Per Year

Year Expires

Air Canada Centre Air Canada Toronto Maple Leafs, Raptors $1.5 million 2019
American Airlines Arena American Airlines Miami Heat $2.1 million 2019
America West Arena America West Phoenix Suns, Coyotes, Mercury $866,667 2019
Continental Airlines Arena Continental Airlines New Jersey Nets, Devils $1.4 million 2011
Delta Center Delta Air Lines Utah Jazz, Starzz $1.3 million 2011
United Center United Airlines Chicago Blackhawks, Bulls $1.8 million 2014

I am not suggesting that airlines should have the opportunity to name airports — some people might think that Continental Airlines had something to do with the naming of Intercontinental Airport in Houston; but I have not at this time found any evidence that that is actually true — as that can be potentially confusing. However, the names of the airports as a result of naming rights would be no more far-fetched than the names — typically after people — currently being used by some airports.

One problem I potentially envision with selling the naming rights to airports is that the corporate name most likely would not stick as they currently do with stadiums. Coca-Cola Atlanta International Airport might fizz out as a name in Sprite of itself, for example.

Another issue could be the potential confusion which renaming airports could cause to passengers: “This airplane is landing at General Electric International Airport. If that is not your final destination, please press the flight attendant call button.”

Still another issue could be the potential for corruption — like that does not already exist at some airports. Hmph.

What are your thoughts? Should airports charge for naming rights? Please participate in the poll below; as well as post your opinions in the Comments section below. Thank you.

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