The only company to bid for the Denver Broncos’ Mile High stadium naming rights thus far is industry vaporizer giant O.penVAPE on May 19.Since Sports Authority went bankrupt in March, the fate of Sports Authority at Mile High Field has hung in the balance. If O.penVAPE’s approximately $6 million per year bid received approval, teams visiting the Broncos this fall would be playing in O.penVAPE at Mile High until at least 2021.
But O.penVAPE has so competition from at least one other marijuana company: Native Roots. Native Roots, with 16 dispensaries scattered throughout Colorado, has publicly stated its desire to land the naming rights as far back as April 2. Yet Native Roots has not submitted its own formal bid just yet.Since Sports Authority has already defaulted on two quarterly payments to the Broncos, the field will almost certainly not be named after the very bankrupt Sports Authority this upcoming season.
However, at this juncture, the company still technically owns the rights and thus, as of now, could auction off the naming rights at the Sports Authority liquidation auction on June 23.However, the stadium name choice may ultimately not come down to Sports Authority or even the Broncos’ whim. An NFL policy, however, may completely nip O.penVAPE’s plan in the bud because:
The naming-rights agreement says the name can’t violate any NFL rule or policy. In effect, the name cannot be that of a tobacco company or generally associated with tobacco products, and the name cannot have an association with another metro area, city or state in the United States other than Denver and Colorado. [The Denver Post]
O.PenVAPE’s saving grace might actually be the company’s plan to only promote its CBD (cannabidiol) products (which don’t get people high) through this deal. While the NFL tests for THC and suspends players who test positive (ugh_, the league doesn’t have a firm stance on CBD products and has never suspended a player for positive CBD (if they even test for the stuff).
That said, you’d think that the weed-loathing Roger Goodell would do anything in his power to prevent a vaporizer company’s logo going on one of stadium’s verandas. When you consider the dollars at stake and the amount of money cannabis companies have to throw at sponsorship deals, Goodell’s folly could ultimately cost the league a lot of dough.
In the mean time, the Broncos have indeed filed a motion to prevent Sports Authority, which already owes the Denver stadium district $19.95 million, from not auctioning off the naming rights on June 23. If that motion gets accepted, there’s a distinct possibility that either Sports Authority’s logo stays on the stadium or there is simply no sponsorship at all for the upcoming season.
A cannabis sponsorship of a major athletic team might not happen this year, and it might happen on an NBA jersey instead of an NFL’s stadium. But it’s going to happen, and when it does, it will be very lit.