The name Adelphia will soon extend beyond cable.
Adelphia Communications Corp. -- the fifth-largest U.S.
MSO, with about 5 million subscribers -- has agreed to spend $30 million to brand the new
Nashville, Tenn., football stadium Adelphia Coliseum.
This is believed to be the first time a cable operator has
stamped its name on a major sports complex, although other cable companies -- notably
Cablevision Systems Corp. with New York's Madison Square Garden -- own stakes in other
The move also casts the company name in stone at a time
when many long-established cable operators have been swallowed up and their names have
Adelphia has been among the active buyers, though, and
chairman John Rigas has repeatedly declared that he has no plans to sell the company that
he controls along with his three sons.
Adelphia -- adapted from the Greek word for
"brother" by founders John and Gus Rigas -- does not own or control any cable
systems in the Nashville area, but it does provide telecommunications services to local
businesses through its Hyperion Telecommunications Inc. unit.
Separately, Adelphia said last Thursday that Hyperion, a
competitive local-exchange carrier serving corporate customers, would be renamed Adelphia
Business Solutions. The eight-year-old CLEC will continue to report financial results
separately, but Adelphia wants to brand all of its residential and commercial
telecommunications services under the Adelphia name.
Adelphia, via Hyperion, agreed to buy the 15-year
stadium-naming rights from the Tennessee Titans, the National Football League team
scheduled to start playing there this fall, sources close to the situation said.
Adelphia and Hyperion representatives would not comment.
The team and Adelphia are expected to announce the arrangement this week. Adelphia's share
price rose $1.38 (2 percent) last Thursday, to $65, while Hyperion's fell by 96 cents (5
percent), to $17.88.
Paul Kagan Associates Inc. sports analyst John Mansell said
the stadium deal would give Adelphia significant brand awareness, but mostly within the
Tennessee Valley region. "Obviously, there will be some national awareness, but it
will have a much greater impact locally," he added.
Local brand recognition is also what Adelphia wants from
its proposed development of a multimillion-dollar waterfront entertainment complex and
sports facility in Buffalo, N.Y., not far from its home base in Coudersport, Pa.
Rigas owns the Buffalo Sabres, which recently lost the
National Hockey League championship to the Dallas Stars by a disputed goal, and the Marine
Midland Arena, where the team plays.
Adelphia has been attempting to negotiate a new lease for
the money-losing arena, which is located adjacent to the waterfront, while discussing its
Adelphia manages the Buffalo cable system in a partnership
with AT&T Broadband & Internet Services, which formerly owned the Buffalo system
and which now owns a minority stake in the joint venture.
Adelphia also owns the area regional sports network, Empire
Sports Network, which shows Sabres games. Empire Sports would relocate to the complex,
along with Adelphia's national operations center, according to published reports. The
MSO's developer partner is The Cordish Co. of Baltimore.
Hyperion provides integrated communications services to
business customers, including local and long-distance telephone and Internet access, in 46
markets in the Eastern United States. Adelphia controls 66 percent of Hyperion, which is
partly owned by public shareholders.
Rigas, who is also Hyperion's chairman, said in a prepared
statement that the new name and integrated marketing efforts between Adelphia and Hyperion
would allow the company to combine the technology and business strength it needs "to
better compete in this increasingly sophisticated communications world."