Bank Watch

For BofA, Super Bowl offers chance to score points with clients

Charles Bowman, Charlotte market president for Bank of America, leads a “Keep Pounding” chant during Friday's Panthers rally at Romare Bearden Park in Charlotte.
Charles Bowman, Charlotte market president for Bank of America, leads a “Keep Pounding” chant during Friday's Panthers rally at Romare Bearden Park in Charlotte. dlaird@charlotteobserver.com

As large U.S. corporations woo their top clients during the Super Bowl, Charlotte’s Bank of America will be part of that off-the-field action.

Companies have long viewed the game as a prime venue for entertaining their key customers, often wining and dining them in hospitality areas or giving them free tickets to the event.

Bank of America’s plans for this year’s Super Bowl, taking place Feb. 7 in Santa Clara, Calif., will likely include a catered tailgating event for some employees and clients attending the game, Charles Bowman, Charlotte market president for the bank, told the Observer on Friday.

“That’s fairly consistent year to year,” said Bowman, who heads out next Friday to attend the matchup between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos.

Bank of America, like other companies, sees the Super Bowl as a “meaningful” opportunity to entertain important customers, Bowman said.

“There are other events that are important, things like the US Open, the PGA tournament,” he said.

But: “There’s only one Super Bowl.”

This year’s Super Bowl takes place in a state where the second-largest U.S. bank by assets has a significant presence, thanks in part to the 1998 purchase by Charlotte’s NationsBank of San Francisco-based BankAmerica. That deal formed Bank of America, which then bought California-based mortgage company Countrywide in 2008.

“A lot of the activities we’ll be engaged in will be with (California) clients,” Bowman said.

The bank is also giving free tickets to some clients, although Bowman did not have an exact figure. Typically, tickets are given to long-standing customers – “our most coveted clients,” he said.

Those clients cover their own flight and accommodation costs, according to the bank.

San Francisco-based Wells Fargo, the third-largest U.S. bank, does not have plans to entertain clients at any large-scale Super Bowl events, spokesman Josh Dunn said.

“We will not have a hospitality tent, suite or any events with large groups of clients and team members,” Dunn said.

Wells Fargo’s name is on a golf tournament held annually in Charlotte.

This will mark Bowman’s first time attending a Super Bowl. Bank of America is the official bank of the Panthers and its name is on the team’s stadium. Under a 2004 deal, the bank is paying an estimated $140 million over 20 years for the naming rights to the stadium.

Bowman, slightly out of breath Friday afternoon after leading a “Keep Pounding” chant during a Panthers pep rally in uptown Charlotte sponsored by the bank, said he’s predicting a Panthers win.

If his team loses, he’ll have to make good on a bet with his counterpart in Denver.

“She will put on Panthers ears and a jersey and a panther tail,” Bowman said.

“In the unlikely event that Denver wins,” Bowman said, he has to wear a Broncos head and jersey.

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