What’s in a name? Arrowhead gets new moniker

The stadium’s full name will now be GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.

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March 5, 2021 - 2:22 PM

Aerial view of Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. Register file photo

KANSAS CITY — Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium has a new name effective for the 2021 NFL season.

Lee’s Summit-based Government Employees Health Association (GEHA) will have its name highlighted at 1 Arrowhead Drive as the stadium’s first sponsor, the team announced Thursday.

The stadium’s full name will now be GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Chiefs’ 76,416-seat stadium, renovated in 2009, plays host to the team’s home games.

Financial terms of the agreement with GEHA (which is pronounced G.E.H.A., as letters, like NFL or NCAA) were not disclosed. But the contract runs through the end of the Chiefs’ current stadium-lease agreement, which expires in 2031, with the Jackson County Sports Complex Authority.

Many teams around the NFL have had sponsorship deals for their respective venues for years. But Thursday’s announcement marks the first time in Chiefs history that the organization has sold naming rights to its tradition-rich venue since construction began in 1968.

The stadium opened for its first full season of games in 1972.

“We are extremely proud and excited to announce our naming rights agreement with GEHA,” Chiefs president Mark Donovan said in a statement. “When we set out to find a partner for the field at Arrowhead, it was critical to identify a national leader that shares our core values, as well as a deep connection to the local community and respect for Chiefs Kingdom.

“Our relationship with GEHA over the last few years has only served to reinforce the alignment between our two organizations and proven their strong, long-standing relationship with the local community. This expanded partnership will continue to build lasting health and wellness programs that support the team, GEHA and our community.”

The Chiefs and quarterback Patrick Mahomes already had a relationship with GEHA. The parties signed a partnership deal in 2019. In addition to being the Chiefs’ exclusive partner for health, dental and vision plans, the Chiefs also held two season ticket-holder fan events presented by GEHA during their 2020 training camp at Arrowhead.

Thursday’s deal further cemented the strong association already in place.

“It’s something that’s actually worked out very well for both sides because we’ve got a really good understanding of each other,” Donovan told The Star.

GEHA, which was founded in 1937, is a provider of health, dental and vision plans to federal employees, retired military members, families and dependents, according to the organization’s website. The company employs about 1,200 people in Eastern Jackson County and counts in excess of 2 million clients.

“Expanding our commitment to the team and community with naming rights for GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium is the natural extension of the partnership we first put in place with the Chiefs in 2019,” GEHA chief growth officer Shannon Horgan said in a statement. “Through our relationship with the Chiefs, we have been able to accelerate awareness of GEHA’s mission, the breadth of our provider networks, and the quality of our health plans.

“The opportunity to grow our brand helps us reinvest in the families and individuals we serve and will be an invaluable benefit to current and future GEHA members. Expanding this partnership will help GEHA do what we do best – serve those who serve us.”

Donovan, who has been with the Chiefs since 2009, said that the Chiefs organization has had its share of potential suitors over the past years. But the team’s desire to find a local partner that understood the longstanding tradition of Arrowhead Stadium and the team’s fan base, referred to as “Chiefs Kingdom,” proved essential in any potential deal.

With GEHA’s ties to the city, it didn’t take long for the Chiefs to grasp that they found the right partner.

“We knew we were in a good place with GEHA when in the very first meeting they told us that if they were going to actually execute this that they would demand that Arrowhead stay part of the name, because they understand that,” Donovan said. “They understand the importance of that.”

Horgan agreed.

“The Arrowhead name means so much to the Kansas City community,” Horgan told The Star in a telephone interview. “And frankly, we employ 1,500 people in the local K.C. market, as well, so it means a lot to our employees and fans alike.

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