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National Car Rental steps up to back St. Louis NFL stadium

Vehicle rental firm National Car Rental has agreed a 20-year deal to become the naming rights partner of a proposed new stadium for NFL American football franchise the St. Louis Rams.

The deal, which was officially announced today (Wednesday), was signed with the St. Louis Regional Sports Authority (RSA). It names the stadium National Car Rental Field and calls for an investment of $6.5m (€5.8m) in year one, with a two per cent annual inflation escalator each year.

The investment totals $158m over 20 years, or an average annual payout of $7.9m. The deal is contingent on an NFL team playing in the proposed stadium.

Plans for the proposed stadium were unveiled earlier this year by a task force appointed by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and co-led by Dave Peacock, former president of Anheuser-Busch, and St. Louis attorney Bob Blitz. The proposal calls for an open-air, 64,000-seat stadium on the edge of the Mississippi River. In addition, it will feature design elements that will make it suitable for a Major League Soccer expansion franchise.

The timing of the announcement is designed to demonstrate to the 32 NFL team owners that the city and state can pay for the $1bn stadium they hope to develop if the Rams or another team agrees to play there.

The Rams are one of three teams, along with the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers, that are currently competing for the potential right to move to Los Angeles. Inglewood City Council in February voted unanimously to approve the development of a 80,000-seat stadium in Los Angeles County – a project backed by Rams owner Stan Kroenke. Owners are meeting this week in New York, and while franchise movement is on the agenda a decision isn't expected until early next year.

Enterprise Holdings is the parent company of National Car Rental, as well as the Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Alamo Rent A Car brands. Enterprise president and chief executive Pamela Nicholson said: “Our company’s roots in St. Louis run very deep. We were founded here in 1957, and though we’ve since grown into a global company, our world headquarters are still right here. So, for us, this is about much more than naming a stadium. It’s about playing our part in a historic effort to renew our riverfront, further revive our downtown area and reinforce St. Louis’s standing as a truly great city.”

Peacock added: “Having National Car Rental and Enterprise Holdings on board clearly helps us reinforce the fact that St. Louis is a strong NFL city and a world-class community by any measure. We’re certainly not surprised that National and Enterprise Holdings stepped up, but I must say we are very grateful and I know our entire community is extremely appreciative as well. This is a smart business move for National, as the power of the NFL is unlike any in sports. But, it’s also just the latest example of the significant commitment that the company and its owners, the Taylor family, have to the future of St. Louis.”