Nokia to Give Up Name on Tel Aviv Arena

September 14, 2014  

Once riding high in the cellphone industry, Nokia is now just an afterthought – and as its fortunes have fallen, so has its income, and its resources. It turns out that Nokia can no longer afford to attach its name to centers, foundations, and sports arenas.

That affects Israel directly, because one of the country’s biggest indoor arenas, in Tel Aviv, is currently called the Nokia Center. Once dubbed “Yad Eliyahu Arena” for the neighborhood it is located in, Nokia leased the rights to attach its name to the arena about ten years ago. Now, the company wants out, and the Tel Aviv Municipality is looking for another company or organization to pay for the prestige that comes with “owning” the naming rights to the site.

Nokia’s lease of the stadium name expires on December 31, and the municipality is hoping to find a replacement by then. The city has issued a tender, which will provide the next leaseholder with naming rights through 2022. Among the conditions set by the municipality: the stadium must be named for an entity or corporation, not an individual.

At a press conference Sunday, Danny Biran, who heads the city-run corporation that owns the arena, described what an advertising bargain name leaseholders would get. In just the past year, he said, there were over 5,000 mentions of the name “Nokia Arena” in Israeli media – a great way to get an organization’s name in front of the public. Nokia had paid $6 million for the its ten-year lease.

Currently with 11,700 seats, the arena was built in 1963, and was refurbished and expanded in 1972 and 2004. It is currently the home court of the Maccabee Tel Aviv basketball team, and hosts dozens of other events each year, from skating shows to circuses to mass Torah lectures.

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