`PSINet' comes off the stadium next week

New sponsor deal likely for less money

April 04, 2002|By Andrew Ratner | Andrew Ratner,SUN STAFF

The stadium name that some Baltimore football fans loved to hate will disappear next week.

The letters "PSINet" will begin to be removed Tuesday from the downtown stadium where the Ravens play.

The team and the bankrupt Internet services company last month reached settlement on terms to end the 20-year naming-right partnership they began in 1999.

Letters will be removed first from the north face of the stadium across from Oriole Park, then the remaining sides through April 19, Ravens spokesman Kevin Byrne said.

The team has not yet found another corporate sponsor for the stadium and is not in a rush to do so, Byrne said. A new sponsor won't necessarily be signed before the next football season, he said.

"Ravens Stadium at Camden Yards" will be the name in the meantime, he said. The PSINet name was controversial from the start. Some fans complained that it was odd and failed to reflect Baltimore because the company - little-known then - was based in Northern Virginia. While PSINet Stadium was one of the first of a pack of new pro sports facilities named for companies in the Internet and telecommunications fields, its name fate isn't unique.

The Houston Astros baseball team last month hurried a $2.1 million settlement with Enron Corp. to remove the name of the failed energy company from its ballpark.

The Ravens will pay $5.9 million to buy out PSINet and terminate sponsorship and suite agreements worth $76.3 million.

The PSINet name will continue, only not on a stadium.

Cogent Communications Group Inc. of Washington, which bought the U.S. assets of the company in Chapter 11 proceedings, will continue the brand with some of its Internet-service products, the company said.

Naming-rights brokers said last month that companies discussed as likely naming-rights sponsors in Baltimore include investment firm Legg Mason Inc. and cable television provider Comcast Corp. Executives with both companies said they aren't interested, although Comcast did inquire about the name prospect with PSINet following the bankruptcy filing in June.

Several analysts don't expect another deal the size of the Ravens' $105.5 million arrangement with PSINet.

The most recent stadium sponsorship deal - two months ago between brokerage firm Edward Jones and the St. Louis Rams football team - is for $73.6 million over 23 years.

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