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SEPTA drops AT&T, renames ex-Pattison Station for NRG Energy

What’s in a name? A subway station by any other name would smell less than sweet.

The Juliets who take the Broad Street Line to cheer on the home teams may be asking themselves that Shakespearean question as SEPTA announces that AT&T Station, located at the Sports and Entertainment Complex in South Philadelphia, will be renamed “NRG Station.”

NRG will pay about $5.3 million for the station's naming rights.That sum will be split between SEPTA (85 percent) and Intersection, an advertising agency that works with the transit authority (15 percent). NRG is also expected to add some on-brand amenities to the station, such as rentable portable power packs and interactive touch-screen kiosks that will provide service information and market NRG products.

This is the third station naming-rights agreement SEPTA has entered into: The AT&T deal in 2010 was followed by Market East Station’s renaming as Jefferson Station in 2014. SEPTA wants to do more, chairman Pasquale Deon said at a press conference Thursday .

“The naming rights, they've been very successful over the years, we'd like to do some more of them,” he said.

Deon then directed his remarks to potential sponsors: “So, anybody out there, we'd like to look at that.”

SEPTA, apparently seeking to avoid giving the station’s previous naming-rights holder any free publicity, referred to the stop in a news release as “the Broad Street Line station originally known as Pattison Station.” AT&T paid a princely sum of $5 million in 2010 to rename the station after its brand. That was a five-year deal that netted SEPTA $3 million — the remainder went to Intersection (then Titan Outdoor) and city agencies to cover the cost of updating signs with the new name.

NRG Energy is a publicly held electric utility with headquarters in Houston and West Windsor, N.J. NRG bought Reliant Energy in 2009, and with it received the naming rights to the Astrodome and the Houston Texans’ stadium. This appears to be the first transit station NRG will grace with its appellation.

As part of the deal announced Thursday, sales teams for NRG -- one of several companies that can supply electricity to PECO customers -- will be allowed to set up marketing tables inside SEPTA stations, said NRG regional vice president Mike Starck.

“Many consumers are not familiar with how energy choice works. So, the chance to get a few minutes with potential customers to explain what we do is crucial to our success,” Starck said, adding that there will be about six sales teams throughout the system daily.

NRG Station, née AT&T Station, née Pattison Station, sits on Broad in front of the South Philly stadium complex that is home to the Phillies, the Flyers, the Sixers, and the reigning Super Bowl champions, the Eagles. The venues also host home games for Temple University football and Villanova basketball, as well as concerts and other large events, like championship parades.

SEPTA renamed its Market East stop Jefferson Station as part of a $3.9 million, five-year deal with Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals. Next year, Jefferson will have to decide whether to extend that deal another four years for $3.4 million.

This article has been updated with details from Thursday's press conference.

About the author

Jim Saksa, Reporter

Jim Saksa is PlanPhilly's transportation reporter, which means he focuses on how Philly bikes, walks, drives, rolls, and rides around the region. 

Jim lives in Point Breeze and has also written for Slate, Philadelphia City Paper, and Technical.ly Philly. He tweets @Saksappeal and you can reach him at jsaksa@whyy.org.



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