What it costs to be the Patriots’ ‘official’ airport
For Rhode Island airport, it’s a barter arrangement
T.F. GREEN AIRPORT in Rhode Island competes against its much bigger rival to the north in Boston using all sorts of promotions, with some interesting terms and conditions.
For example, Green is the “Official Airport of the New England Patriots,” a distinction that gives it some cachet. It also runs “native ads” in the Boston Globe trumpeting the smaller airport’s advantages.
Both deals are not unique to Green. What sets Green apart is the fact that the terms and conditions for the “official” designation are obtainable because Green is a public agency subject to Rhode Island’s public records law.
The Patriots deal is a barter arrangement, with Green waiving landing, takeoff, and aircraft storage fees for the team’s two aircraft and the team providing Green with a series of promotional benefits, including permission to use the Patriots name in ads in every New England state but Vermont; plugs for Green on Gillette Stadium digital sign boards, the Patriot website, mobile applications, and social media; and Patriot game radio spots.
The financial numbers are a bit fluid, but the deal values Green’s contribution to the Patriots at $142,000 and the Patriots’ contribution to Green at about $1 million.
John Goodman, director of media relations for the corporation overseeing the airport, which is located in Warwick, said the organization struck its deal with the Patriots to build name recognition for the airport.
“We compete with Logan Airport as they offer better choice fares, more frequency, and larger aircrafts,” he said. “We feel the association between T.F. Green Airport and the Patriots. . . provides an important opportunity for [the airport] to improve brand name and geographic awareness throughout our service region. The key takeaway is people don’t buy what they don’t know.”
Andrew Zimbalist, a sports economist from Smith College, said the deal benefits both parties. “You could say that the deal has an estimated advertising value of $1 million, but such numbers are quite subjective and it doesn’t mean that the Patriots had an option to sell that sponsorship to somebody else for a million,” he said. “So it’s not really costing the Patriots anything.”
Zimbalist said Patriots owner Bob Kraft is “buying himself some goodwill and some flexibility at the airport that he might not otherwise have.”
The native ad in the Globe cost $18,000 and appears under the heading “From Our Partners” on the newspaper’s website. It somewhat resembles a regular Globe article focused on whether it is faster to get to Green or Logan International Airport in Boston from Foxborough. The 1,200-word story, which concludes it’s faster to get to Green, was not written by Globe staff.
“As an avid business and leisure traveler, I’m constantly on my way to and from airports,” said the ad. “The option to travel out of a smaller, less crowded airport is always my preference because they are a breeze in terms of travel to-dos like getting your boarding pass and getting through security. One of my favorite small airports is T. F. Green Airport.”