Ravens-PSINet settlement OK'd by judge

Team regains rights to stadium's name in exchange for cash

March 01, 2002|By Gus G. Sentementes | Gus G. Sentementes,SUN STAFF

The Ravens are closer to severing their ties to PSINet Inc. after a federal bankruptcy judge approved a settlement yesterday that returns the naming rights of Baltimore's football stadium to the team in exchange for a cash payment to the bankrupt Internet services company.

A Ravens spokesman said the team had expected the settlement's approval, and an attorney for the team said PSINet's name and logo will come down after this month.

The team has said that it has heard from companies that have expressed interest in the stadium naming rights, but has not given any details on negotiations.

Last year's Super Bowl champions struck a 20-year, $105.5 million deal with Northern Virginia-based PSINet in January 1999 that included stadium naming rights, a marketing sponsorship agreement and a private suite license agreement. PSINet also hosted the Ravens' Web site.

At the time, the naming rights agreement was a record for a pro football stadium, but it was eventually eclipsed by others, such as Federal Express' $205 million, 27-year deal for the naming rights to the Washington Redskins' stadium in Landover.

As part of the settlement, the Ravens will reimburse PSINet $5.9 million and terminate the sponsorship and suite agreements worth $76.3 million. Judge Robert E. Gerber approved the settlement in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

The Ravens and PSINet are scheduled to close the settlement on March 31, though the Ravens have the option to extend the closing date by 30 days.

Meanwhile, Cogent Communications Group Inc., a Washington-based Internet services company, said Wednesday that it entered an agreement to buy PSINet's major U.S. operating assets, including its customer base and network, certain equipment and three hosting centers. The agreement and the sale require court approval.

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