Heinz Field’s days may be numbered — at least as fans know it.
Stalled talks over a contract renewal have prompted industry observers to speculate that Kraft Heinz Co. probably will not to seek to retain the naming rights to the home of the Steelers beyond 2021, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal reported Monday.
Terry Lefton, described as a “sponsorship industry insider,” said it’s “highly unlikely” that Kraft Heinz will renew the contract two seasons from now — “paving the way to a new name for the first time in (the) stadium’s history,” Ben Fischer of the Sports Business Journal said.
The lack of interest in renewing the naming rights stems partly from the fact that Heinz no longer is headquartered in the Pittsburgh region, according to the Sports Business Journal.
H.J. Heinz Co. and Chicago-based Kraft merged in summer 2015, forming the world’s fifth-largest food and beverage company.
Meanwhile, the company is confronting mounting financial challenges, including its stock taking a 35% plunge earlier this year. Just last month, a financial securities analyst suggested that Kraft Heinz Co. could run out of cash by 2020.
Officials from Kraft Heinz Co. have said nothing has been finalized and the possibility of Heinz staying around remains “on the table,” the Sports Business Journal reports.
Heinz has owned the rights since the stadium’s construction on Pittsburgh’s North Shore in 2001.
Speculating about new name: There’s no official word on potential contenders vying to replace Heinz as the stadium’s primary sponsor — but that hasn’t stopped speculators from flooding social media with suggestions.
Among ideas floated in one lively Reddit discussion about the possible name change: Iron City Stadium, Eat’n Park Field, Mister Rogers Neighborfield, Jeff Goldblumfield and Shenderovich, Shenderovich, and Fishman Stadium — referring to a local law firm with a catchy radio ad.
Several suggested an option that could preserve the stadium’s use of ketchup bottles to signal when players get within 20 years of the goal line — Hunt’s Field.
Three Rivers Field also was a popular mention, paying homage to the former home of the Steelers and Pirates.
Nonprofit health giants UPMC and Highmark also emerged as possibilities.
Many fans lamented the notion of any name change. One posted a photo of an arm tattoo prominently featuring “Heinz Field.”
Some asserted they would continue to call the stadium Heinz Field regardless of the new official moniker — akin to the way many from the region continue to refer to the KeyBank Pavilion concert venue in Burgettstown as StarLake Amphitheater, its name many years ago.