IRVINE, Calif. — The name may be changing, but the big name entertainment will stay the same. Verizon Wireless today announced that it has signed a seven-year agreement with SFX (NYSE: SFX), the world's largest provider of live entertainment, for the naming rights to the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre.
Effective April 24, the 16,300-seat theater will be renamed Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. The agreement formally inaugurates the Verizon Wireless brand name to the residents of Southern California following its name change from AirTouch Cellular earlier this month.
The Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre is one of SFX's top amphitheaters, and one of Southern California's premier music venues. More than 250,000 concert fans attended 24 live events at Irvine Meadows in 1999. Of approximately 90,000 fans, who purchased their concert tickets at the on-site box office last year, 25 percent were Los Angeles county residents and 36 percent resided in Orange County. This years venues include headliners Jimmy Buffett, The Cure, Steely Dan, Roger Waters and Britney Spears.
"Our company name has changed, but our commitment to Southern California customers has not," said Randy Laub, manager, communications, Verizon Wireless. "Verizon Wireless is the market leader in the Greater Los Angeles area and has provided wireless service to local residents for more than 15 years, previously known as AirTouch Cellular. The naming of the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater commemorates our new name and communicates our ongoing commitment to Southern California customers."
"Our agreement with Verizon Wireless represents more than just a sponsorship. It marks the beginning of a unique marketing program through which we can both promote our products and services," said Rodney Eckerman, executive vice president and COO of SFX. "We're excited to be the first Southern California company to work with Verizon Wireless since its name change, and we look forward to a long and prosperous relationship."
SFX is the world's largest diversified promoter, producer and presenter of live entertainment events. SFX currently owns and/or operates 120 live entertainment venues in 31 of the top 50 US markets, including 16 amphitheaters in the top 10 markets. In 1999, nearly 60 million people attended over 23,000 events promoted and/or produced by SFX, including more than 7,800 music concerts, 13,300 theatrical shows, 1,400 family entertainment shows and over 500 specialized sports and motor sports shows.
SFX produces and promotes live music events, as well as develops and manages touring Broadway shows in 55 markets. SFX is also a leading fully integrated sports marketing and management company specializing in the representation of athletes and broadcasters, integrated event management, television programming/production and marketing consulting services in sports, news and other entertainment industries. Additionally, SFX Sports produces and promotes specialized motor sports events.
SFX recently announced that it had entered into a definitive merger agreement with Clear Channel Communications, Inc. (NYSE: CCU), a transaction that is expected to close by the third quarter of this year, subject to the vote of shareholders, and customary regulatory approvals and closing conditions. Clear Channel is a global leader in the out- of-home advertising industry with radio and television stations and outdoor displays in 36 countries around the world.
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless is the largest wireless communications provider in the U.S. with over 16 million wireless voice and data customers and nearly 4 million paging customers. The new coast-to-coast wireless provider was formed by the combination of the U.S. wireless businesses of Bell Atlantic Corp.(NYSE:BEL) and Vodafone AirTouch Plc (LSE:VOD; NYSE:VOD). The new company includes the assets from Bell Atlantic Mobile, AirTouch Cellular, PrimeCo Personal Communications and AirTouch Paging.
Verizon Wireless will be further strengthened by the addition of the U.S. wireless assets of GTE Corp. (NYSE:GTE) when it completes its merger with Bell Atlantic. When the merger is complete, the new company will have a footprint covering nearly 90% of the U.S. population, 49 of the top 50 and 96 of the top 100 U.S. markets.
Verizon Wireless, headquartered in New York City and Bedminster, NJ, is 30,000 employees strong.