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Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Audio cable biz pays $6M for Candlestick rights

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SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco renamed its most storied sports stadium "Monster Park" on Tuesday, with a Bay Area electronics cable company agreeing to pay at least $6 million for the naming rights to Candlestick Park.

"It's a only-in-San Francisco-name and San Francisco prides itself on being different and this is just another example of us standing out in a crowd," said Sam Singer, spokesman for the San Francisco 49ers, who play at the stadium.

The name, which becomes effective in time for Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams, comes from the stadium's new sponsor, Monster Cable Products, a San Francisco-area company that sells audio cables such as those connecting guitars to amplifiers.

"Monster has always been an unusual name. But, at least within the consumer electronics industry, it's a famous name," Monster vice president David Tognotti said in an interview.

Monster Cable beat out other suitors for the naming rights, including Oracle Corp, Wells Fargo and Macromedia.

" It's a only-in-San Francisco-name and San Francisco prides itself on being different and this is just another example of us standing out in a crowd. "
49ers spokesman Sam Singer

"Having started a business here, I couldn't even imagine in my wildest dreams that this could have happened," Noel Lee, who founded Monster Cable Products in 1979 in the garage of his family's home in San Francisco, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Monster now employs 330 people, and big-time musical acts such as the Rolling Stones, U2 and Aerosmith use the company's products on tour, Lee told the newspaper.

The stadium, located between the airport and central San Francisco, has a rich history. Baseball legend Willie Mays set National League records for the Giants before the team moved to a stadium closer to the city center.

Pope John Paul II once preached a mass to the faithful, and the Beatles played their last regular concert there.

The 44-year-old stadium originally was named Candlestick Park by a fan through a naming contest initiated by a local newspaper. Al Dermody, a lifelong San Franciscan, said he was inspired to name the park for its Candlestick Point location. His winning entry was among 16,000 received by the paper.

"The name is unique and intriguing and well-suited because the new ballpark will serve as a bright beacon attracting fans for miles around," he wrote at the time.

Dermody died on Sept. 24 at age 94.

San Francisco first sold the stadium naming rights to 3Com in 1995 for $900,000 a year -- in a deal that ended in 2002.

The Giants played their last games there in 1999. They have a $53 million naming rights deal with SBC at their new stadium; that deal lasts until 2020.

Under the Monster Park deal, the city of San Francisco will split the $6 million or more evenly with the 49ers, Singer said, though a Chronicle report noted that a city ballot initiative could complicate the deal.

Four city supervisors have put a proposition on the November ballot to mandate the park keep the "Candlestick" name, but it's unclear whether this week's contract would supersede a November vote, according to the newspaper.

The participants wouldn't disclose the exact amount of the deal, but San Francisco will get "at least" $3 million, though David Peart, the 49ers' vice president of sales and marketing, told the Chronicle that amount may rise later.

Peart called Monster an ideal partner.

"They will help us promote our games and our team through their [products] because they are high-end and committed to quality," he told the newspaper. "They're considered the best of the best."

Information from Reuters was used in this report.