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Ravens' stadium named: PSINet; N. Virginia company closes deal with team as 'presenting sponsor'; New Web site on way; Firm is Internet service provider


It's official: Baltimore's new football stadium will be called PSINet Stadium.

The Northern Virginia-based Internet service provider and the Ravens completed a deal on Friday that will make the company a "presenting sponsor," deeply involved in many aspects of the team's public face, according to a source familiar with the negotiations who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Look for a new, jazzy Ravens World Wide Web site on the Internet and prominent lettering on the brick stadium.

An announcement is expected in the next week. Reached yesterday at his home, Ravens executive vice president David Modell declined to comment on the status of the team's naming rights negotiations.

The team paid the Maryland Stadium Authority $10 million for the right to sell the name of the stadium to a corporate sponsor. The price PSINet will pay was not immediately known, but the team had been seeking more than $3 million a year for a multi-year deal, according to one source.

PSINet fits the profile of high-technology companies that have shown interest in such high-profile marketing deals. With this deal, it will raise its name recognition nationwide. Its name will be mentioned in NFL game broadcasts, and its logotype will likely become a fixture in downtown Baltimore.

Officials for the company were not immediately available to comment. Several months ago, a company spokesman denied that the firm was in conversations with the team, but other sources confirmed the talks were ongoing. Its name appeared on rotating signs inside the stadium midway through the season.

The company has invested heavily in Internet lines to service business clients around the world, with an emphasis on the lucrative Washington-to-New York corridor. The firm provides customers with a range of Internet services, from Internet hookups to specialized Web pages and secure mechanisms for customers to purchase products online.

As one of the oldest and largest independent Internet service providers, PSINet has been the subject of frequent rumors that it might be a take over target by a larger company. So far it has chosen to remain independent, however.

Among PSINet's rivals are integrated communications giants such as Sprint Corp., GTE Corp., MCI Worldcom and AT&T; Corp.

Other stadiums that have acquired high-tech sponsors in recent years are Ericsson Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., San Francisco's 3Com Park, San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium, and Jacksonville, Fla.'s, Alltel Stadium.

PSINet, a pioneer in the commercialization of the Internet, was founded in 1989 as Performance Systems International Inc.

Pub Date: 1/24/99

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