From Covent Garden To Fifth Avenue

Wembley owner Quintain Estates has appointed the Los Angeles-based Wasserman Marketing Group to try to raise up to US$1 billion on the naming rights to the area surrounding the U.K.’s new national stadium.

Although Wembley special projects exec Charlie Shun has said the area will have “the mix and life of Covent Garden,” Quintain property director Nick Shattock is now reacting to the U.S. company’s involvement and has been quoted as promising “a balance between the vibrancy of Times Square and the embedded branding of a Fifth Avenue.”

Quintain and WMG Marketing – which is run by Casey Wasserman (the grandson of MCA founder Lou Wasserman) and has already fixed a US$180 million deal for Emirates Airlines to sponsor the Arsenal soccer team and stadium – are looking to attract globally recognized brands to the property and want to sign as many as 11 exclusive partners. They hope to sign up the first within the next 12 to 18 months.

WMG Marketing also brokered a US$187 million deal for Atlanta’s Philips Arena and the naming rights for Houston’s Toyota Center and Los Angeles’ Staples Center and Kodak Theatre. The company is currently representing the Juventus Football Club in the naming of its new stadium in Italy.

The company, a division of Wasserman Media Group, is believed to have beaten competition from Clear Channel and IMG to land the job. It doesn’t include renaming the stadium.

As for the names themselves, Shattock said, “It can’t be brash or overt. We want it to add to the overall excitement and enhance the consumer experience.”

WMG Marketing President Jeff Knapple added, “There are so many ways to integrate different kinds of product categories because this is where people will live, work and dine.

“Our goal is to avoid slapping anyone on the site. We’re looking for companies that want to be involved in the building of the project. Our plan is to deploy a less-is-more strategy.”

The sought-after product categories include beverage, auto, security, financial and telecommunications brands. Sponsors could benefit through everything from signage to their own retail destinations similar to the Las Vegas Coca-Cola and M&M stores.

Apart from the US$65 million refit of the stadium and neighbouring Wembley Arena, the Covent Garden-styled surrounding property will include a 150,000-square-foot shopping centre, a 140,000-square-foot sports retail complex; 4,224 apartments and Britain’s largest movie multiplex.

It will also be dotted with a variety of restaurants, cafés and bars, a bowling alley and nightclubs.

There will be three public squares and Shun has been joined by Kate Hopewell, daughter of Primary Talent founder Martin Hopewell, to organise the performance and entertainment spaces.

Caesars Entertainment is also in talks to build a US$600 million casino and hotel resort on the site.

The entire complex will eventually cover 8 million square feet across 70 acres of land and will be served by three railway stations. An estimated 12 million people are expected to visit each year, although that figure could be much higher if the casino is built.

Quintain, which is also redeveloping the area surrounding London’s Millennium Dome, acquired the site around Wembley Stadium in 2002. It’s already broken ground on the new complex and hopes to have the redesigned stadium completed in time for next year’s FA Cup final. Plans call for the entire complex to be completed within the next seven years.

John Gammon