First Mariner Bancorp (FMAR) may not keep its name on a local arena but the Baltimore bank will continue to have a popular pitchman.
The $1.4 billion-asset company is discussing a deal with Legends Sales and Marketing, a company that First Mariner Arena's manager SMG Holdings hired to shop the naming rights, which expired in December.
First Mariner's name has adorned the 14,000-seat venue for concerts, sporting events and other performances since 2002, when the company acquired the sponsorship from Edwin Hale Sr., a Baltimore-area businessman who founded First Mariner, according to Dennis Finnegan, First Mariner's head of retail banking.
Arena Ventures, a company that belongs to Hale, who left First Mariner in 2011 amid efforts by the bank to shore up its capital, had acquired the naming rights from the city, which is now looking for a new sponsor. Hale acquired the rights for $75,000 a year and the arena manager is now looking for a deal that could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, according to news reports.
First Mariner says it is in talks with Legends about whether to remain the arena's namesake or to continue to advertise at the 51-year-old building in some other way. "We're trying to figure out what makes sense for us and what makes sense for the arena," Finnegan told American Banker. "Nothing's final at this point."
Finnegan added that First Mariner is "looking at the full spectrum" of branding opportunities Legends offers.
Separately, First Mariner has extended an endorsement deal with Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco that proved to be a boon during the team's trek to the National Football League championship. In the week leading up the Super Bowl, First Mariner, which formed the relationship with Flacco roughly three years ago, rented seven electronic billboards throughout Baltimore and invited fans to send Flacco messages in 30 characters or less that the bank displayed daily. Missives poured in by the hundreds.
Flacco, who recently signed a contract worth $120.6 million that makes him the NFL's highest-paid player, also has appeared in advertising for the bank.
Finnegan says Flacco will remain a face of First Mariner, although the bank executive declined to give details. "All I can say is, yes, we are going to continue," Finnegan said. "We have extended our relationship and both sides are very happy with the extension."