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Q&A | Bucks president Peter Feigin on the team’s 25-year stadium naming deal with Fiserv

  • Fintech firm based in Wisconsin, but the ‘backbone’ of financial transactions around world
  • Fiserv will streamline payment provision in arena and use it as a ‘test lab’ for new ways to transact
  • Rumours that company will move into commercial district alongside the team untrue

What were Fiserv’s objectives in meetings with you? Is it fair to say they are a business-to-business company using a consumer-type medium to get their message across?

Without question. It’s elevating their brand; it’s awareness – they are innovators in everything they’ve done in the growth of their company. I think they feel that attaching themselves with a global NBA team is one of the next steps in awareness and growth around the world. They really are the backbone of the financial transaction world – they’ve got thousands of customers, much of which are financial institutions and they transact trillions of dollars around the world.

Did the length of the deal change in the negotiations? It was originally reported that you were looking at a 20-year deal.

We tried to keep everything as confidential as we could because it was a long process. It was a challenging deal in terms of laying out a road map for 25 years, but the term was not one of the things we disagreed on. We were both on the same page for a very long commitment. We signed what I call a ‘generational deal’ – we did a 25-year naming rights deal. I think those are few and far between.

Do you think Fiserv will activate by streamlining payment transactions in the new arena?

One of the dozens of benefits is we have now partnered with one of the pre-eminent experts in innovation in how to streamline transactions and how to really innovate the way we do that. So that is one of the things we’re looking forward to: how do we work with Fiserv and really use the arena, the retail, the food and beverage and our core businesses as pilot programmes and test labs for new ways to transact?

BMO Harris Bank of Chicago is another financial institution that sponsors the team. Are there any synergies or conflicts there?

There are no conflicts; we think down the road there are certainly collaborations and abilities to leverage partners. Fiserv works with BMO and they are big business partners. I think part of this deal is trying to figure out the future and how those collaborations will work but Fiserv does not compete with any of those institutions, so it works very well.

Is it too early to give more specifics about the activations?

Other than the obvious of just completely collaborative branding and the naming convention on the building, extremely high volume of impressions on things like signage and around media, we have dozens of elements to flesh out and explore. We’ve got the concept and the template, but we haven’t launched them yet.

What rights are Fiserv getting over and above naming rights to the stadium?

We consider this as our pre-eminent business partner, so not only are they connected to us on a day-to-day basis and have access to and collaboration with all of our assets, which are our players our buildings, our games that are broadcast, our hospitality, but we are also thinking about different ways to leverage the arena itself. How do we leverage unbelievable content in that? What they realised right away is the more enriched our content and programming gets at the arena, the more impressions it gets, the richer the association they have with the building so that’s our focus. We’ll also be launching tentacles that go into global communities and philanthropy. There are tentacles that go into media, into hospitality and signage and then there’s a bucket that we will figure out as time goes on.

It’s been reported that Fiserv might move into the office block the Bucks are planning to build alongside the arena as part of the naming rights deal. Is there any truth in those rumours?

Commercial real estate has nothing to do with this naming rights deal. We didn’t negotiate or discuss a commercial tenant relationship as part of this deal.

Are there any discussions about a tenancy as a separate deal?

No, it’s not on the board of discussion. As a group we’re always open to opportunities but as it pertains to Fiserv we didn’t discuss anything, and we didn’t make it an element of the naming rights deal.

The deal has been criticised as a further state subsidy in some quarters given the fact Fiserv was offered $12.5m in tax relief last year to keep its headquarters in the state. What do you say to that?

This is like an exemplar of a pre-eminent marketing partnership and collaboration of brands in sports and entertainment, that’s the only thing I can comment on. This is a spectacular, long-term, 25-year committed partnership among both parties that really looked out even past the future, especially if you think about technology.

Is the $6m to $7m a year value being reported an accurate figure?

We’re not going to comment financially. It’s an extremely competitive deal that I think both sides are thrilled with.

It was reported that the offer from Fiserv had been on table for some time and that you initially walked away from it because you thought you could do better. Is that true?   

No, I’d summarise it as: we have been talking for a very long time and we’ve both been very committed in what was a very complicated deal – specifically over the term. We didn’t have a deal till we had a deal.

Do you think you’ve got value for money it?

We’re thrilled. We love the connotation; we’re very excited about the Fiserv Forum. We’ve got a partner who’s committed locally, who’s committed nationally and internationally, and our teams have been talking and collaborating over a period of time to make this substantial.

How did the fact that the arena will be a 365-day-a-year sport and entertainment facility play in negotiations?

We positioned the product as an international platform, certainly as it pertains to the Bucks where impressions are, certainly where the media is going. On top of that, our expectation and our plan is to make the Fiserv Forum an international and certainly a national destination for other sports and entertainments with a line-up of concerts and unique events. We are looking to redefine sports entertainment and we are looking to do it from the city of Milwaukee. Certainly I think that had a lot to do with it – it’s definitely a change in the landscape in Wisconsin to do that. Our value proposition was very much grounded in creating the best sports entertainment venue in the world.

To read about the commercial innovations in the Fiserv Forum, click here.

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