WaMu lends name to NY MSG stage


NEW YORK -- The Theater at Madison Square Garden is immediately being renamed the WaMu Theater in the first-ever naming rights deal for the world-renown sports and entertainment venue.

Under the terms of the multiyear naming rights agreement announced Thursday, Washington Mutual will receive branded signage featuring the new WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden logo throughout the theater and externally on Madison Square Garden. The WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden also will be included in all marketing and promotional materials for events held at the venue. In addition, WaMu will place 11 branded ATMs throughout the Garden and WaMu Theater.

Madison Square Garden and WaMu executives declined to disclose how much WaMu paid for the naming rights to the 5,600-seat theater that has served as host to major entertainment and sporting events during its 30-year history; for example, the NBA and NFL drafts, world championship boxing matches, the Daytime Emmys and concerts by Neil Young, Melissa Etheridge, Kanye West, Elton John and Simon & Garfunkel.

"This partnership with Washington Mutual marks the first time that Madison Square Garden has ever had a naming rights deal for any of its properties; continuing to secure these types of strategic partnerships is a major part of our growth strategy," said Michael Bair, president of MSG Media. "As the Garden builds its business at this time of unprecedented growth, we will continue to offer distinctive marketing solutions to clients that present extraordinary value and brand exposure for both companies involved."

But Bair said the Garden and its owner Cablevision Systems Corp. "have no intentions at this time of selling naming rights for Madison Square Garden arena, one of the last great icons in America."

With more than 325 retail banking centers and nearly 5,000 employees in the New York area, WaMu's history of entertainment marketing in New York City has ranged from organizing an unprecedented "buyout" of all theater tickets on Broadway for a day to donate them to teachers to serving as presenting sponsor of the musical "Movin' Out." In addition to the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden, WaMu has naming rights to the WaMu Theater in Seattle, which opened last year.