The Buffalo News

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

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The home of the Buffalo Bisons is getting its fourth name: The former Pilot Field, NorthAmeriCare Park and Dunn Tire Park will now be known as Coca-Cola Field.
James P. McCoy / Buffalo News file photo

Updated: 12/17/08 03:53 PM

Goodbye, Dunn Tire Park. Hello, Coca-Cola Field!

NEWS SPORTS REPORTER

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 The home of the Bisons will soon have its fourth name since it opened in 1988.

The home of the Buffalo Bisons will get a new name as the city and the club announced today the downtown baseball stadium will be called Coca-Cola Field as of Jan. 1.

The deal with the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Buffalo is for 10 years and it includes all signs in and around the ballpark as well as the continuation of a cross-promotional campaign the Bisons and Coca-Cola signed in 2004.

Jon Dandes, president of Rich Baseball Operations, refused to put a dollar amount on the agreement, saying that as a matter of policy -- because both the team and the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Buffalo are family-held -- financial details are not made public.

He did say that "the deal was a great deal more than Pete [Benzino] and Charlie [Bitzer, both of Coca-Cola] wanted to pay and a great deal less than Mike [GM Mike Buczkowski] and I would have wanted to have."

This will be the fourth corporate name for the ballpark, which opened in 1988 as Pilot Field.

It became North AmeriCare Park in 1995 after the original rights holder, Pilot Air Freight of Philadelphia, defaulted on its payments to the city. Locally owned Dunn Tire took over in 1999, inheriting a $2.5 million deal for the final nine years of the contract.

The deal with Coca-Cola also includes an extension for pouring rights that runs concurrent with naming rights.

Dandes said the deal had been in the discussion stages for more than a year and that when the Bisons became an affiliate of the New York Mets "it became a slam dunk."

The Bisons had 10-12 expressions of interest in purchasing the naming rights and discussions with three or four parties. Dandes would not name those who expressed interest.

Randy Clark, chairman of Dunn Tire, said his company's affiliation with the stadium has been a good one. He said marketing research said that because of that affiliation Dunn Tire now has name recognition that is four times any competitor's.

The ballpark name is one of a bevy of changes for 2009.

The city went the corporate route on the name over protests of some who wanted it named for late Mayor Jimmy Griffin. But Griffin has been honored with the ballpark’s address — 275 Washington St. is now known as “One James D. Griffin Plaza”— and a statue or plaque is expected to be erected in his honor next spring.

The team unveiled a new logo and new colors Tuesday. Gone is the green scheme that dates from 1998. In is a blue and orange arrangement that closely matches the New York Mets, the Bisons’ new major league parent club.

mharrington@buffnews.com


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