Bank-Branch Infiltration Reaches Madison Square Garden

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This just in via e-mailed press release: The space formerly known as the Theater at Madison Square Garden, formerly known as the Paramount Theater and even more formerly as the Felt Forum, will now be known as the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden. "The name of The Theater will be changed immediately," the release reports, and the deal will include signage throughout the Garden and eleven WaMu ATMs at the venue. (Please tell us this doesn't mean the end of the Chase machines near the Seventh Avenue entrance. WaMu, as we discovered the other night, is now up to a $2 charge for using its ATMs. So much for the buck-fifty stopping there.) Six months ago, the city's three major sports venues — the Garden, Shea Stadium, Yankee Stadium, — remained proudly unsponsored. Now the Garden's got WaMu, at least peripherally, Shea's gone Citi, and only one question remains: Which bank will meet Steinbrenner's price? Full press release is after the jump.

MADISON SQUARE GARDEN AND WaMu ANNOUNCE MULTI-YEAR NAMING RIGHTS DEAL FOR THE THEATER AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN


“WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden” is the First Naming Rights Deal for the Property

New York, May 17, 2007 — Madison Square Garden and WaMu have reached a multi-year naming rights agreement for The Theater at Madison Square Garden, now the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden. Hank J. Ratner, vice chairman of Madison Square Garden and Cablevision Systems Corporation, and Steve Rotella, president and chief operating officer of WaMu, jointly announced the partnership today. The name of The Theater will be changed immediately; the financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

This is the first time that Madison Square Garden has entered into a naming rights agreement with a company for any of its properties. Under the agreement, WaMu will receive:
* Branded signage throughout The Theater, and externally on The Garden, featuring the new WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden logo;
* The WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden name will be included in all marketing and promotional materials for events held at the venue during the length of the agreement;
* WaMu will place 11 branded ATMs throughout The Garden and Theater

“We are pleased about this new partnership with WaMu and that such a well respected company will be a key part of Madison Square Garden for years to come," said Mr. Ratner. "MSG is uniquely able to create innovative partnerships with companies that connect their customers with our brands like no other place in the country. WaMu is a perfect partner as a company that wants to connect their brand with our experiences, and we're excited to build this unique relationship with them."

Madison Square Garden is one of the most recognized entertainment venues in the world and the partnership – to use a musical pun – is very well ‘in tune’ with our brand and focus on everyday people,” said Mr. Rotella.

He further noted, “New York is an important market to WaMu. The visibility on the venue’s ads, billboards and signage gives us a tremendous opportunity to extend our brand, which focuses on making banking simpler and delivering industry leading service, to millions of customers and potential customers who attend music and other events and use WaMu’s onsite ATMs.”

With more than 325 retail banking centers and nearly 5,000 employees in the New York area, WaMu’s history of supporting entertainment in New York City has included an unprecedented “buy out” of all theater tickets on Broadway for a day and donating those tickets to teachers, serving as presenting sponsor of the musical sensation “Movin’ Out,” and creating entertaining, giant interactive Times Square billboards. In addition to the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden, WaMu has naming rights to the WaMu Theater in Seattle, which opened last year.

“This partnership with Washington Mutual marks the first time that Madison Square Garden has ever had a naming rights deal for any of its properties, continuing to secure these type of strategic partnerships are a major part of our growth strategy, ” stated Michael Bair, president of MSG Media. “As The Garden builds its business at this time of unprecedented growth, we will continue to offer distinctive marketing solutions to clients that present extraordinary value and brand exposure for both companies involved.”

The WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden is a versatile 5,600-seat venue that has served as host to major entertainment and sporting events in its over 30-year history. Some of the biggest names in the music world have played The Theater including Neil Young, Melissa Etheridge, Kanye West, Van Morrison, Elton John and Simon & Garfunkel.

The Theater has also hosted some of the hottest award shows including VH1 Divas Live, The Daytime Emmys and the Essence Awards, and continues to have success with legendary family shows including a 10-year run of A Christmas Carol, as well as a 27-year run with Sesame Street Live. In addition, the venue has hosted a variety of sports events including the NBA and NFL draft and numerous world championship boxing bouts. The most recent addition to the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden is the new Cirque Du Soleil production Wintuk, which will premiere with a ten-week run this November.

About Madison Square Garden
Madison Square Garden, L.P. is owned by Cablevision Systems Corporation, and includes the New York Knicks (NBA); the New York Rangers (NHL); the New York Liberty (WNBA); the Hartford Wolf Pack (American Hockey League); MSG Entertainment, which includes concerts and events at Radio City Music Hall, Madison Square Garden, The WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden, and the Beacon Theatre; MSG Media, which is comprised of MSG and FSN New York; fuse, the music television network; and the Madison Square Garden arena complex, located in the heart of the New York metropolitan area.

About WaMu
WaMu, through its subsidiaries, is one of the nation’s leading consumer and small business banks. At March 31, 2007, the company had assets of $319.99 billion. The company has a history dating back to 1889 and its subsidiary banks currently operate nearly 2,700 consumer and small business banking stores throughout the nation. WaMu’s press releases are available at http://newsroom.wamu.com.

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