It’s no longer Heinz Field, but the Heinz isn’t going away completely.
According to Mark Belko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Kraft Heinz and the Steelers have reached a verbal deal on a five-year relationship that will allow Heinz to maintain a presence at the place that no longer will be known as Heinz Field.
“We’re happy to say we’re going to continue to work with Heinz,” Steelers V.P. of sales and marketing Ryan Huzjak told Belko. “Heinz is going to continue to be a corporate partner of ours.”
The presence includes ongoing sponsorship of the Heinz Red Zone. However, the ketchup bottles that would tilt as the video board filled up digitized ketchup already have been removed and won’t be part of the arrangement. There will be, per Huzjak, “digital replication” of the past dynamic.
One of the 35-foot fiberglass bottles could return to not-Heinz Field, as part of a Kraft Heinz display.
“There’s a lot that needs to be covered in terms of detail but we’re working on an opportunity where we can have a bottle visible at the stadium,” Huzjak told Belko.
The team’s new corporate naming-rights partner surely will have a voice in those talks. Fans have not embraced the change. The more visible Heinz is in the building, the harder it will be to get fans to truly turn the page.
That’s why the bottles are gone. The fans surely wanted them. The new corporate partner surely did not. Otherwise, the new company would be paying more than $10 million for naming rights that would still be owned, as a practical matter, by someone else.