The National Stadium in Karachi has been renamed the National Bank Cricket Arena after the PCB signed a five-year naming-rights deal with the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), a government-owned commercial bank. The stadium is on a 99-year lease from the federal government since 1980 and is the largest stadium in the country with a seating capacity of 32,000.
This is the first naming-rights deal for a stadium in Pakistan.
“We are delighted to partner with the Pakistan Cricket Board,” NBP President & CEO Rehmat Ali Hasnie said in a statement. “The National Stadium, Karachi is one of the most iconic cricket venues in the world and has hosted some of the legends of all eras since Test cricket was first played there.
“We are honoured to associate with such an incredible cricket venue, our endeavour during the next five years would be to help the PCB further uplift the venue while making contributions to Pakistan cricket across the country at the grass root level simultaneously.”
The NBP has been involved with Pakistan’s domestic cricket since the induction of the departmental teams in 1970. The organisations were asked to provide employment opportunities for players, allowing them to have full-time jobs, and the NBP has been among the few to have been offering player contracts right from the start till 2019, when the domestic structure was revamped making it a six-provincial association affair.
The NBP won five Quaid-e-Azam trophy titles and seven Patron’s Trophy titles during their 48 years of participation. It also has a first-class ground – the NBP Sports Complex – in Karachi, which has been hosting competitive cricket since 1998.
The PCB didn’t reveal the exact value of the deal; the board had earlier reported acquiring the services of YouGov to estimate the brand worth of the stadiums in the country. The PCB said that besides the naming-rights agreement, both parties will also collaborate and partner on sponsoring initiatives to promote and develop grassroots cricket across the country.
As per the agreement, the NBP will be allowed to use the venue nomenclature and signage outside the playing area.
Apart from the Karachi stadium, which was allotted to the PCB in 1980 by the then president General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, cricket stadiums in Pakistan are the property of respective city governments. The Gaddafi stadium, the Rawalpindi stadium, the Multan stadium and the Bugti stadium – all PCB-regulated venues – are on a short-term lease, which is renewed from time to time by respective governments.
Earlier this year, the PCB said it was planning to find a naming-rights sponsor for the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, though that has not yet happened.