ASB Bank has decided to pull its naming rights sponsorship for Whangārei's ASB Stadium as well the ASB Leisure Centre and the ASB Northland Sports House.

The decision, which was made earlier this year, will see the three facilities lose their ASB title by the end of March next year. ASB had also pulled sponsorship for the Kerikeri Half Marathon after this year but Sport Northland confirmed 2020's race would be sponsored by Northland Waste.

Despite dropping the naming rights for the facilities and half-marathon, ASB would continue its relationship with Sport Northland as a major sponsor through the ASB Northland Secondary School Sports Awards and the ASB Northland Secondary Schools Sports Events Programme.

The Northland secondary school sports awards, seen here, will continue to be sponsored by ASB. Photo / langwoods.co.nz
The Northland secondary school sports awards, seen here, will continue to be sponsored by ASB. Photo / langwoods.co.nz

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ASB's head of community and sponsorship Mark Graham said ASB had reviewed its nationwide sponsorship commitments and was "looking to expand into regions where we currently do not have a presence, or where our community focus is light".


Graham would not confirm how much sponsorship ASB had pulled from Sport Northland, citing commercial sensitivity.

Sport Northland was now fielding interest from other companies to find a new naming rights sponsor. Chief executive Brent Eastwood said while he knew of one company which was particularly interested, he was optimistic they would find a replacement by March next year.

"I don't think it's going to be easy, but we are hopeful," he said.

"It's hard in the regions when you're talking about that kind of sponsorship, there's just not many around that can afford the naming rights sponsorship that we are talking about."

Read more: Eastwood pledges $25,000 to Kauri Club Fund

Eastwood said he couldn't confirm a ballpark figure for the stadium's naming rights sponsorship as he felt it would be unfair to potential sponsors.

Naming rights sponsorship was one of three sources of funds for the stadium and its facilities, alongside a Whangārei District Council subsidy and payments made by users of the facilities.

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Sport Northland chief executive Brent Eastwood was optimistic they would find another naming rights sponsor for ASB Stadium by the end of March next year. Photo / File
Sport Northland chief executive Brent Eastwood was optimistic they would find another naming rights sponsor for ASB Stadium by the end of March next year. Photo / File

Eastwood did not expect any facilities or services to change during the process of finding a new sponsor.

"That's why [ASB] has given us plenty of time to try and replace it as a sponsor so ideally, it would be pretty seamless and once [ASB's] contract ends, we would change into the new one."

Eastwood said he understood the reasons behind ASB's decision to invest money in other areas and hoped the bank would continue to play a major role in Northland sport.

"It is what it is and the way you've got to look at it is, it's an opportunity for us," he said.

"The great thing is that [ASB] is not pulling out of Sport Northland therefore it is not pulling out of some sport up here in Northland."

Figures from Sport Northland's 2018/19 annual report showed ASB Stadium was used a total of 2779 hours by 83,887 people and 1030 groups, which included meeting rooms and lounge facilities that are part of the stadium.

Built in 1980, Kensington Stadium's first naming sponsor was the Northern Advocate from 1995 to 2004 before Genesis Energy secured the rights from 2005 to 2009. ASB was the third naming sponsor in the stadium's history and had held the rights since 2009.

Another Whangārei sporting venue, now named Semenoff Stadium but well known as Okara Park, went through a 12-month period from August 2018 to 2019 without a naming sponsor after Toll pulled its naming rights sponsorship and the venue was referred to as the Northland Events Centre.

Read more: Semenoff Stadium attendance speaks volumes

In August this year, local company Stan Semenoff Group bought the naming rights, and the venue was named Semenoff Stadium ahead of this year's Taniwha rugby season.

Northland Events Centre Trust chairman Phil Halse would not confirm how much Stan Semenoff Group bought the naming rights for.