CMGI Sacks Stadium Deal

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Add the naming-rights deal for the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots' new stadium to the list of multimillion-dollar dot-com agreements gone bust.


Internet technology holding company CMGI Inc., Andover, MA, said this week that it renegotiated its stadium-naming rights deal with the Patriots. The stadium, which has yet to host a professional football game, no longer will be called CMGI Field.


Gillette has assumed the naming rights to the facility, which is about 25 miles outside of Boston, for an undisclosed amount. The Patriots will play their home opener Sept. 9 in Gillette Stadium.


CMGI is the majority owner of ad-serving technology provider Engage Inc., search engine AltaVista, online auction site uBid and e-mail marketing services provider YesMail.com, among others.


Under its original deal with the Patriots, struck in August 2000, CMGI was to pay the football team $7.6 million per year for the first 10 years of a 15-year agreement and then some adjusted amount annually for years 11 through 15.


Under the current deal, CMGI will pay $1.6 million per year from 2003 through 2015 for undisclosed "more limited marketing rights," the company said in a statement.


"CMGI's business, and indeed the business climate for technology companies overall, has seen drastic changes in the two years since we announced our original agreement with the Patriots," CMGI president/CEO George McMillan said in the statement.


"We believe that these revisions of the sponsorship agreement, which will reduce our ongoing commitment to the Patriots by approximately $86 million, will better position CMGI for future success," he said.


However, the company still expects in the quarter ended July 31 to record a $21 million charge related to future payments under the renegotiated deal.


This is the latest in a series of failed stadium-naming deals. The Houston Astros broke off their naming deal with Enron before the 2002 baseball season began, and now play in Minute Maid Park. Also, the Baltimore Ravens football team had failed telecom PsiNet's name removed from their stadium, and now play in Ravens Stadium.


CMGI once held more than 70 companies, but after massive restructuring now holds interest in fewer than 10. Its stock once traded for more than $100 per share, but lately has been hovering around 40 cents.


In June, CMGI reported a net loss of $125.2 million for the third quarter of fiscal 2002, the latest quarter for which figures are available. In 2001, CMGI reported a stunning $5.4 billion loss for the year.


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