The Ravens are significantly expanding their relationship with Under Armour, signing a 10-year agreement to name the team’s practice facility for the Baltimore apparel and footwear company and agreeing to collaborate on a series of community and youth projects.
The Owings Mills practice facility is being renamed the Under Armour Performance Center. Financial terms of the 10-year naming rights agreement were not disclosed. “We’re still playing pool for that,” joked Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank.
A news release announcing the agreement depicted sample signs jointly displaying the Under Armour and Ravens logos and the practice center’s new name. Some signs were already in place Friday afternoon, including one in the team meeting room.
“This was a no-brainer,” Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said. “This wasn’t a hard-fought negotiation. It’s the only company I ever would have considered this for.”
Bisciotti and Plank, each wearing jeans, a button-down shirt and sport coat, were side by side Friday in a Baltimore Sun conference room. They exchanged casual banter in between answering reporters’ questions.
“We’ve known each other for 10 or 11 years. I was trying to get you to invest in me,” Plank said to Bisciotti.
“That was one of my wiser decisions to say no,” Bisciotti replied with a smile.
Plank said Under Armour will contribute to the team in a number of ways, some of them not yet defined.
“I will drive him crazy with ideas,” Plank said. “This is our partner and we expect to help them on every level. We are building products literally less than three miles from where the Ravens play on Sundays.”
Bisciotti said the Ravens “feel that we’re a pretty hip brand in the NFL marketplace, but I don’t think we bring to the table the same talent level and the size of the marketing department that Kevin has. So I expect him to teach us and get us out of our comfort zone a little bit. I think he will make my brand better.”
The community projects will aim to upgrade athletic facilities for youths.
“Let’s be clear: Our school systems, they don’t have the money,” Plank said.
The collaboration deepens Under Armour’s tie to the NFL. The company is already an authorized distributor of footwear and gloves to NFL players, and is the title sponsor of the NFL combine.
Under Armour already has a presence at M&T Bank Stadium that includes two suites.
Bisciotti said the deal aids the team by more closely tying the franchise to a company — Under Armour — that is popular with a younger demographic. He said the partnership was appropriate because, compared to their rivals, the Ravens and Under Armour are both relatively new organizations.
The Ravens arrived in Baltimore before the 1996 season. Under Armour was founded by Plank the same year.
Because the Ravens have been in Baltimore only 16 years, the city doesn’t yet “ have that multi-generational love affair with the Ravens as these other teams that have spent 40 and 60 years in their home markets where granddad went to the games,” Bisciotti said.
Plank “is joining forces, luckily, with the exact kind of people that are after his brand,” Bisciotti said. “There’s a synergy in the brands [in] that we’re two young guys fighting some very established competitors.”
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