Magazine article American Banker

Huntington's NFL Deal Underscores Michigan Focus

Magazine article American Banker

Huntington's NFL Deal Underscores Michigan Focus

Article excerpt

Byline: Victoria Finkle

With the National Football League's 2012 season kicking off this week, Huntington Bank is making a play to win over fans of the Detroit Lions.

On Wednesday, the Columbus, Ohio, bank announced a $2.4 million, five-year agreement with the Lions that gives the bank exclusive naming rights of the club and suite levels at the team's Ford Field. Signage at entrances and exits of the those level will be installed in time for Lions' season opener Sunday against the St. Louis Rams.

The deal is also the latest in a series of efforts to raise Huntington's profile in Michigan, where the bank has been increasingly directing its attention in recent years.

"It's safe to say that a couple of years ago, maybe three years ago, there was a very strategic decision made that there was opportunity in Michigan that we believed in that others maybe didn't see," says Mike Fezzey, president of Huntington's East Michigan Region.

Examples of the bank's investment in Michigan are numerous. The Lions partnership follows a 10-year marketing deal struck this summer with the Michigan State University athletics department to help fund improvements to the school's stadium in return for marketing opportunities in the stadium and on scoreboards and in game programs, television and radio broadcasts and online.

Huntington has also expanded its reach in more tangible ways, making more than $1.5 billion in loans to Michigan businesses in the past year, and announcing plans in the spring to open more than 200 branches in Meijer supermarkets and grocery stores in Michigan. It's also been rumored that the bank could be a potential buyer of Citizens Republic Bancorp (CRBC) in Flint, Mich.

The bank has been snagging other deals around the Midwest as well, including a partnership with Ohio State University announced in February.

Huntington remains more prominent in its home state a where it has the No. …

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