The ketchup bottles at Heinz Field will soon be in the recycling bin.
The Pittsburgh Steelers announced Monday that their home stadium will no longer be called Heinz Field. The team reportedly couldn't reach a new deal with Heinz, the sauce and condiment company famous for its signature ketchup and the iconic bottles that contain it. Andrew Fillipponi of Pittsburgh radio station 97.3 The Fan first reported that the Steelers already had a new deal in place, and it's with a non-ketchup company that couldn't be more different than Heinz.
The new name is... Acrisure Stadium.
Acrisure is an insurance company based in Michigan, and it's a sharp turn from Heinz, an iconic brand that has its headquarters in Pittsburgh and was founded in a town just five miles away. Heinz signed a naming rights deal with the Steelers before the stadium opened in 2001. The deal was worth $57 million, a tribute to Heniz's old newspaper ads that boasted their "57 varieties" of products.
Heinz released a statement after the Steelers announced the new stadium name. While Acrisure could pay the Steelers "significantly more" than the company could justify, they plan to continue being a long-term sponsor of the team.
Official statement from Kraft Heinz on the stadium naming rights:
“While we worked diligently with the Steelers for several months around a new naming rights deal, they found a new partner willing to pay significantly more than we could justify.“ pic.twitter.com/zccCvSjq30
— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) July 11, 2022
Fillipponi reports that Acrisure will pay more than $10 million annually for the naming rights.
Is there a connection between Acrisure and the Steelers?
There may not be an obvious connection between Acrisure and Pittsburgh, but a less-obvious one may exist. Alan Saunders, a local Pittsburgh sportswriter, pointed out that in 2020 Acrisure purchased the artificial intelligence business of Tulco, a technology-focused holding company based in Pittsburgh. Tulco was founded in 2017 by Thomas Tull, who has been a minority owner of the Steelers since 2009.
What does that mean? Not much in all likelihood, since naming rights are sold to the highest bidder. But it does give a little more shading to the overall picture, since a Michigan-based insurance company feels like an out-of-left-field pick for naming rights. Acrisure was probably a known quantity to the team due to Tull’s connection, which could have helped them get their foot (and their wallet) in the door.
Fans already hate the new name
In a statement, team president Art Rooney II gave a little more information about why they chose Acrisure as the new stadium sponsor (beyond the enormous check they got).
"Acrisure provided us with an opportunity to ensure our stadium continues to be a valuable asset for our fans as well as keeping up with the market value of NFL stadiums," Rooney said.
Since Rooney said the Steelers made the deal so the stadium would remain a valuable asset for the fans, this seems like a good time to check in with the fans. Are they happy with the new stadium name?
No. No they are not. They fully and thoroughly hated it from the moment the name "Acrisure Stadium" leaked on Monday morning.
Only in Pittsburgh can announcing the naming rights for a stadium immediately become a horrible PR situation for your company. 😂☠️#Acrisure
— Bill Crawford (@dveBillCrawford) July 11, 2022
The Steelers going from Heinz Field to Acrisure Stadium pic.twitter.com/nkpkqjZxhi
— JJ Zachariason (@LateRoundQB) July 11, 2022
Heinz is Pittsburgh. Acrisure is what? I'm steamed.
— Adam Crowley (@_adamcrowley) July 11, 2022
Absolutely no one will call if Acrisure Field. What a tremendous waste of money by them.
— Justin W. (@NFLGimpy) July 11, 2022
I will be 6ft in the ground before I ever utter the word “Acrisure”
— Wig (@Gwigggy) July 11, 2022
Nothing represents the blue collar city of Pittsburgh and the Steelers like the name Acrisure Insurance Stadium.
— B. Miller (@BlaiseInKC) July 11, 2022
So this name change can be salvaged. Make the official name “Art Rooney Field at Acrisure Stadium” and call it a day. It’ll be synonymous with team ownership and not some company we’ve all never heard of.
— Donny Football (@DonChed54) July 11, 2022
Acrisure Stadium replaces Guaranteed Rate Field as the worst venue name in pro sports https://t.co/j49aemekMm
— Justin (@afc2nfc) July 11, 2022
Ain’t no one calling it Acrisure. It’s Heinz till the day I D.I.E pic.twitter.com/hKIkKe6lgo
— Tone Digs (@ToneDigz) July 11, 2022
Heinz Field is changing its name to Acrisure Stadium, after its new sponsor, a Michigan-based insurance company.
This is the worst thing to happen to Heinz Field since Bane. pic.twitter.com/ntaZclQoCZ
— Korked Bats (@korkedbats) July 11, 2022
acrisure sounds like a yeast infection medication https://t.co/HSaIwAwpsX
— Boris Backer #BackBoris (@lib_crusher) July 11, 2022
If they think for a second any of us are uttering ACRISURE when referring to the Steelers home field… LOL
— 𝘼𝙎𝙃𝙀𝙍 🚀 (@Pickett2Pickenz) July 11, 2022