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Titans want to hang up on Adelphia
Football team says bankrupt telecom missed $500K naming rights payment; wants to seek new sponsor.
May 23, 2002: 5:08 PM EDT
By Chris Isidore, CNN/Money staff writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - The Tennessee Titans football team wants to hang up on Adelphia Business Solutions, the bankrupt telecommunications company that has its name on the team's Nashville, Tenn., stadium.

The team and city and county stadium authority filed a motion in U.S. bankruptcy court in New York seeking to have Adelphia become current in payments to the team or immediately give up the naming rights on the Adelphia Coliseum so that the team can seek a new sponsor. The company, which was spun off from troubled cable operator Adelphia Communications Corp. earlier this year, filed for bankruptcy protection March 27.

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The team's filing said that under the 15-year, $30 million naming agreement reached in 1999, the team was to receive $2 million a year in four equal quarterly payments. The company, which provides fiber-optic long-distance and broadband services, missed its $500,000 payment May 15, according to the court filing.

The Tennessee Titans want Adelphia Business Solutions to become current in its payments to the team or take its name off of the Nashville stadium.  
The Tennessee Titans want Adelphia Business Solutions to become current in its payments to the team or take its name off of the Nashville stadium.

The team said that it needs a decision by June 20 to avoid spending more than $750,000 on branded merchandise such as tickets, programs and schedules with the name of the stadium on them. It also said it wants to avoid sending Adelphia $90,000 worth of tickets, as well access to the luxury box worth $125,000 that the company receives as part of the naming rights agreement.

"We would prefer to continue our relationship with Adelphia, but have unsuccessfully tried to ascertain Adelphia's near-term plans with respect to our promotional agreement for Adelphia Coliseum," said a statement from Steve Underwood, the team's general counsel. "This motion will give our organization needed direction and may assist both the Titans and Adelphia in moving forward with their business plans."

Adelphia spokesman Jeff Nodland said he couldn't comment on the filing or how the team will respond in court.

"We definitely have valued our relationship with the team, but I can't comment or speculate what will happen," he said.

The team said it believes it can find a new name for the stadium if Adelphia drops out in time for the new season.

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"In the event we are unable to continue our agreements with Adelphia, a timely resolution of our motion would give us an opportunity to secure other partners for naming rights for the Coliseum for the upcoming season," said Underwood's statement.

But finding companies to pay for naming rights has been more difficult in the current soft advertising market.

The state of Louisiana hired a firm to search for a sponsor for the Superdome home of the New Orleans Saints, but despite the stadium playing host to the Super Bowl last Februaryno sponsor has yet been found. The Houston Astros baseball team is also looking for a new sponsor for Astros Park after it won back the naming rights from bankrupt energy trader Enron Corp.

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The naming rights agreement on the Nashville stadium was originally reached with Hyperion Telecommunications, which was the name of the company before its purchase by cable operator Adelphia Communications Corp. Adelphia Communications spun off its 87 percent stake in Adelphia Business Solutions earlier this year before the bankruptcy.

Adelphia Communications has its own financial troubles. It announced Thursday it had to raise its reported level of debt to reflect $3.1 billion in borrowing by the Rigas family which was guaranteed by the company. The Rigas family had controlled both companies, but it gave up its control of the cable operations as part of an agreement announced Thursday.  Top of page