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Conseco latest stadium curse victim
Financial firm's name on Indy arena means 9 stadium sponsors have gone bankrupt in last 2 years.
December 18, 2002: 12:24 PM EST
By Chris Isidore, CNN/Money Staff Writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Conseco Inc.'s bankruptcy filing should not have been a surprise -- not only were the company's financial problems well documented and its stock delisted by the New York Stock Exchange, but its sponsorship of a major sports arena should have been a clear warning sign to investors.

Conseco has had its name on the home of the Indiana Pacers since it opened in 1999.  
Conseco has had its name on the home of the Indiana Pacers since it opened in 1999.

The financial services firm became just the latest victim of the Stadium Sponsor Curse, the fifth company to seek bankruptcy this year with its name on the side of an arena or stadium. The company has a 20-year, $40 million contract that started in 1999 to have its name on the Conseco Fieldhouse, home of the National Basketball Association Indiana Pacers. The company is based in the Indianapolis suburb of Carmel, Ind.

An executive with the Pacers would not comment if the team is owed money by Conseco for an annual payment on naming rights.

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"We've been in communication with them and look forward to a long future relationship," said Rick Fuson, executive vice president for the team.

With its bankruptcy filing, Conseco joins WorldCom unit MCI, cable operator Adelphia, and air carriers United Airlines and US Airways Group as stadium sponsors that filed for bankruptcy protection this year.

Click here for look at Stadium Sponsors Stock Index

USAir Arena in Landover, Md., lost its pro sports tenants in 1997, but the airline's name stayed on the building until this past Sunday, when it was demolished by controlled implosion. That came about four months after its sponsor's bankruptcy filing.

The curse of the stadium sponsor didn't begin this year. Energy trader Enron Corp.'s financial collapse last December capped a year that also saw four sponsors file for bankruptcy -- Enron, Internet provider PSINet, National Car Rental owner ANC Rental, and airline Trans World Airlines. The nine bankruptcies come out of 52 publicly-traded companies that have signed such sponsorship agreements, or 17 percent of the total.  Top of page

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