The spring training home of the Minnesota Twins has dropped CenturyLink as the title sponsor of the sports complex.
Since the new year began, all of the CenturyLink signage has been removed from the ballpark. Some of it has been replaced with the original name, “The Lee County Sports Complex.”
“It will be called the Lee County Sports Complex for now,” said Dustin Morse, director of communications for the Minnesota Twins. He said the team would be looking for a new naming rights partner.
The naming rights agreement between the technology and communications company and the Major League Baseball franchise began in 2014 and expired at the end of 2021. CenturyLink isn’t even called CenturyLink anymore. It rebranded to Lumen Technologies Inc. in 2020.
Lee County built the sports complex in 1991 and spent about $54 million renovating it in 2014. The 30-year lease extension with the Twins runs through 2044. In it, the team agreed to maintain “Hammond Stadium” as the official name of the stadium, honoring former assistant county manager Bill Hammond. He helped negotiate the original lease between the Twins and the county.
The Twins were allowed by the county to shop and profit from the naming rights of the sports complex with sponsors. The Twins declined to divulge the dollar value of the sponsorship agreement, and the county said that agreement was not a public record.
Kevin Reichard, editor of Ballpark Digest, said minor league and spring training stadium naming rights usually go for $100,000 to $250,000 a year.
“The thing is, naming rights have sort of evolved over the past five to 10 years,” Reichard said. “It’s no longer just slapping the name on the facility. They’re longer-term partnerships involving much more than just the name of the facility. Naming rights for spring training stadiums don’t happen that often. It’s usually major league teams making deals with existing sponsors.”
Reichard pointed to the spring home of the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, which is the corporate headquarters of Publix grocery stores. It’s called “Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium.” That was a public-private partnership, a 15-year, $3 million naming rights deal that breaks down to $200,000 a year.
“Publix gets eight months of public exposure to it,” Reichard said, because the minor league team plays there during the summer. The Twins could aim for a similar deal with another company at the Lee County Sports Complex, Reichard said.