DENVER — The Denver Broncos have sold the naming rights to the stadium, and no, it still won't officially be called Mile High Stadium.
Empower Retirement, based in Greenwood Village, Colo., has inked a deal to put its company's name on the stadium.
The name will be Empower Field at Mile High.
According to its website, Empower Retirement, is the second-largest retirement services provider in the United States, with more than nine million participants.
What's a retirement company doing putting its name on a sports stadium?
In 2015, Empower signed sponsorships deals with the Broncos and, brace yourself, the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots.
"We could have made a lot of different decisions, in terms of what's the best way to deploy that capital, and we felt the best way to deploy it was in the community that we call home and to make a commitment and to this community and to this organization," said Edmund F. Murphy III, CEO of Empower Retirement. "It's a long-term commitment. I have complete confidence that Empower will be around for a long time, with the Broncos and the Denver community."
The stadium has gone through three other names and two corporate sponsors.
WATCH: Is naming a stadium a good investment?
When it replaced Mile High Stadium in 2001, the stadium was called Invesco Field at Mile High.
In 2011, Invesco sold the naming rights to Englewood-based Sports Authority, which changed the name to Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
In 2016, Sports Authority filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
The name of the now-defunct sporting goods store stayed on the stadium for almost two years, until the Broncos bought the naming rights and changed the signs to say Broncos Stadium at Mile High.
WATCH: Looking at the terms of the new Empower Field at Mile High contract
If a company that administers 401(k) plans is now investing in naming rights, does that mean your 401(k) money is being used?
"No, they're not. The money that you send through them to your retirement investments is put in a trust," said Conrad Ciccotello, Director of the Reiman School of Finance in the Daniels School of Business at the University of Denver. "The money that they're using to name the stadium is coming from their revenues, not from the money that you're giving to them to administer for your retirement plan."
Ciccotello said businesses like Empower charge administrative and record keeping fees. That's the money that's at play here.
"If, for example, as happened previously in Denver, the naming rights to the stadium were sold to someone who had financial problems, that wouldn't affect your retirement funds with Empower because they're held in a separate trust," said Ciccotello.
The Metropolitan Football Stadium District owns the stadium and must sign off on the deal between the Broncos and Empower. A board of directors manages the stadium on behalf of taxpayers in Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas and Jefferson counties. The Broncos lease the stadium from taxpayers.
What happens to the three Broncos logos on the north, east and west sides of the stadium that replaced the Sports Authority signs? Good question. We'll ask the Broncos and get an answer.
When Invesco entered into a naming rights agreement with the district prior to the stadium's opening in 2001, Invesco agreed to pay $60 million through 2021. The company also paid the Broncos $60 million for advertising in the stadium.
The naming rights agreement was backloaded, starting at $2 million in the first year and gradually increasing to $4.6 million in 2020. When Sports Authority took over in 2011, there was still more than $32 million remaining to be paid in the original deal with Invesco.
The Broncos bought the naming rights in 2018, with more than $12 million remaining. The district board has allowed the team to pay in quarterly installments, instead of annually in August.
The money from naming rights gets spent on upgrades at the stadium.
In 2018, the Broncos estimated that it would need $500 million over the next 30 years to keep the stadium updated.
Last month, the city approved a master plan for a stadium district that would allow the development of the concrete parking lots south of the stadium. A tax generated from the development would also contribute to the upkeep of Mile High Sta…er, Empower Field at Mile High.
POLITICIANS REACT TO EMPOWER NAMING RIGHTS DEAL
Gov. Jared Polis (D) posted on Facebook, "It’s good to see that the Denver Broncos reached an agreement with a local company for stadium naming rights. The stadium will now be called Empower Field at Mile High."
Former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, who wanted to preserve the name "Mile High Stadium" told Next in a text message:
"Today, the Denver Broncos had a missed opportunity to name the stadium Pat Bowlen Field at Mile High Stadium after the patriarch of their team. As for the new name change, I know myself, as well as thousands of Bronco fans will always call the stadium 'Mile High Stadium.'"
Current Denver Mayor Michael Hancock sided with Polis:
"I'm excited the Broncos we're able to secure a new naming rights partner for Mile High! This is a local partner fans know well and respect."
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