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Etihad acquires naming rights to Australian stadium

MELBOURNE - Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has secured the naming rights to the 55,000-capacity Telstra Dome stadium in Melbourne, Australia.

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The five-year deal, Etihad's first major sporting sponsorship is Australia, will see the Abu Dhabi-based airline's branding feature prominently inside and out the stadium, including perimeter signage and giant scoreboards.

The deal is effective as of March 1 2009 -- the start of the Australian Football League (AFL) season and just weeks before the airline launches a non-stop, daily service to Melbourne.

James Hogan, chief executive of Etihad Airways, said: "Australia is a hugely important and rapidly growing market for our airline, and this deal provides an excellent opportunity to continue building our global brand and forge close and long-lasting relationships with the Australian travelling public, many of whom we know are huge sports fans.

"As a Melbournian, I am particularly proud that our airline is now so closely associated with my home city."

Etihad Stadium is the latest of a number of sports sponsorships for the airline, including partnerships with the Ferrari F1 team, Chelsea Football club, Harlequins Rugby Football Club, the All Ireland Senior Hurling championships and the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship.

Eithad is also the title sponsor of the F1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2009.

The stadium opened in March 2000 and was originally called Colonial Stadium. The name was changed to Telstra Dome in 2002 when the telecommunications company Telstra acquired the naming rights from Colonial State Bank. It is commonly referred to as 'the dome' or 'the phone dome'.

It is used as a home ground by a number of AFL clubs and hosts sporting events -- including football, cricket, rugby, wrestling and boxing -- as well as other events such as concerts.

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