SANTA CLARA - A perfect fit?
That description was used - tongue in cheek - multiple times Wednesday after news broke that Levi Strauss & Co. had purchased the right to put its name on the 49ers' new 68,500-seat stadium.
The blue jeans maker, which got its start in San Francisco during the California Gold Rush, will pay $220 million over the next 20 years to become an official partner of the team and for signage - including above the 190-foot-long scoreboards on both ends of the field - inside and outside the facility. The $1.2 billion stadium, which opens next year, will be called Levi's Stadium.
"Levi's jeans were designed for the 49ers during the Gold Rush," 49ers CEO Jed York said at a news conference in San Francisco. "It was a good fit for them then and it's a good fit today."
The deal averages $11 million per year, and there is an option to extend it another five years. The annual value makes it the NFL's second-most-lucrative naming rights deal behind MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, which averages $17.5 million a year. That stadium is home to both the NFL's Giants and Jets.
On May 21, NFL owners will decide which stadium will host Super Bowls L and LI in 2016 and 2017. Super Bowl L - the 50th game - is more coveted, and the 49ers and the Bay Area are competing against the Dolphins and South Florida to host it.
South Florida's bid took a hit last week when the state's lawmakers could not agree on a deal to provide taxpayer support for a $350 million upgrade of Sun Life Stadium, renovations viewed as critical to landing a Super Bowl.
The loser of the May 21 vote will compete against Houston for the right to host Super Bowl LI.
If the Bay Area wins the bid, most of the Super Bowl week festivities would take place in San Francisco and the game would be played in Santa Clara, 45 miles to the south. The final regular-season game in San Francisco's Candlestick Park, the 49ers' home since 1971, is scheduled for Dec. 23.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews were on hand for Wednesday's announcement. Lee said Levi Strauss is a San Francisco-based company and will be "rolling off of everybody's tongue" for the next two decades.
"We win as a region, which is what I've been emphasizing more and more often," Lee said.
Along with ticket sales and seat licenses, sponsorship deals are a large source of revenue for the 49ers to pay for their stadium. The team already has deals with solar-power companies NRG Energy and Sun Power, as well as with technology and software companies Brocade, SAP and Sony.
Two of the stadium's main themes are technology and sustainable design, and many believed the naming-rights deal would be with a tech company in Silicon Valley, where the stadium is located. Instead, the 49ers are sticking to their San Francisco roots with a company that in 1873 made the first riveted men's work pants - known now as blue jeans.
"I think Mayor Matthews said it perfectly - Levi's is the original innovator in the Bay Area," York said. "They're the original technology company."