What is Acrisure? How the insurance company ousted Heinz as the Steelers’ stadium sponsor (and angered NFL fans)

Times change…

2022 was something of a rebirth for the Steelers. They’ve got a new man in the middle, a youthful bunch in defense and pretty low expectations, at least compared to their AFC North opponents. They also have a different stadium name.

For 20 years, the place that was home to icons such as James Harrison, Troy Polamalu and Hines Ward was known as Heinz Field. Named after the famous spice brand, it was a nickname that just rolled off the tongue. And regardless of what you think of Heinz’s toppings (this author hates ketchup, for example), it seemed to fit the franchise well. So much so that Pittsburgh made the playoffs in 14 of their 21 seasons prior to the last name change to Acrisure Stadium.

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That doesn’t appear to be the case this year. In the laundry list of issues that have cropped up in Pittsburgh’s season, the stadium’s name probably doesn’t top the list. But it hasn’t helped matters, especially with a raucous fan base entrenched in many of their traditions.

So what exactly is Acrisure? The Sporting News gives you an inside look at the multi-billion dollar company and its (unpopular) foray into the sports world.

What is Acrisure?

Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Acrisure is one of the best-known financial technology and insurance companies in the United States.

The company was founded in 2005 by Greg Williams and Ricky Norris, a firm formed to acquire smaller insurance companies in their native Midwest.

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Acrisure has enjoyed stable growth over the past decade and has cemented its status as one of the most well-known insurance companies in the world. It provides technology for a range of different industries including wealth management, real estate and cyber services.

The company has been making waves in recent years, going from a $28 million business to one that closed a $725 million preferred equity campaign earlier this year and has a 31st valuation received billions of dollars.

With all the capital accumulated over the years, it was little surprise that Acrisure made the leap onto the sports landscape. According to Axios, the company will shell out more than $150 million over the course of its 15-year deal with Pittsburgh.

Williams, a self-proclaimed Steeler fan, vowed to “invest in the Pittsburgh community.”

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It will take a long time for people to get used to the old digs with a new name. Commentators have confused the new title with its more famous earlier one. So did fans, many of whom have done so in an act of defiance of the owners’ unpopular decision.

But with a 15-year contract on the horizon, Steelers fans — and NFL viewers in general — had better get used to Acrisure.

Consequences of the name change from Heinz Field to Acrisure Stadium

The name change left many Pittsburgh supporters who liked the Heinz Field name upset. Some players even got involved, including legendary Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

I can’t believe it doesn’t seem right or real! Home will always be Heinz Field! I will never forget the last game and all the great fans at FOREVER HEINZ! – Ben.#ForeverHeinz

(Thanks to @ThompsonFoto12 & @YinzerSzn for the great photos!) pic.twitter.com/BnYTDp9zEp

– BigBen7.com (@_BigBen7) July 11, 2022

People even started a Change.org petition to reset the stadium name.

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Many wondered why Heinz didn’t renew his sponsorship with the Steelers and kept his name. The company said shortly after completing the new stadium deal that it only boils down to one thing: money.

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The Kraft Heinz Company released a statement addressing its naming rights deal with the Steelers. They said they couldn’t justify paying as much for the rights as Acrisure was willing to pay.

While we worked diligently with the Steelers for several months on a new naming rights deal, they found a new partner who was willing to pay significantly more than we could justify.

However, Heinz – a Pittsburgh company – is not completely ending its sponsorship of the Steelers. They will be a “significant, long-term partner” for the organization and outlined some of the work the company will do for the Pittsburgh community.

While our name will no longer be on the stadium, Heinz will remain a significant, long-term sponsor of the Steelers and we look forward to announcing the details of our new partnership in the coming days.

Kraft Heinz is committed to his continued support of the Steelers and the Pittsburgh community in a city that is our shared headquarters. In addition to our partnership with the Steelers, we look forward to our continued support of organizations like the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and Grow Pittsburgh, and sponsorship of events like Picklesburgh, among others.

So Heinz will continue to have a significant presence in Pittsburgh. It’s maybe just a little muted compared to when they had the naming rights to the stadium.

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Jacob Camenker contributed to this story