Scout/Jeff Drummond

Home of Kentucky Wildcats football renamed Kroger Field

Corporate partnership with regional grocery chain marks end of Commonwealth Stadium name.

The home of Kentucky Wildcats football is getting a new name. 

After 44 years of playing at Commonwealth Stadium, the Cats will open the 2017 season at "Kroger Field" after a corporate partnership was formally announced Monday with the regional grocery chain.

“This is an unprecedented partnership that pairs two iconic brands – UK and Kroger – whose reach extends throughout the Commonwealth and far beyond our borders,” UK President Eli Capilouto said. “Kroger shares our mission to serve Kentucky. And this partnership tangibly advances that mission, as evidenced by what it will allow us to do on our campus, but also as Kroger embarks on an ambitious effort to enhance health and wellness throughout Kentucky.”

The agreement – which is between Kroger and JMI Sports, UK’s multimedia rights partner – is effective immediately, pending approval by the UK Board of Trustees on Tuesday. It begins at approximately $1.85 million annually with a term of up to 12 years.

Kroger and UK will also be partnering to improve facilities across the state as pat of the Kroger Fields Community Program, including a 5K race that will finish at the 50-yard line of the newly renamed Kroger Field.

“The common goal of this partnership is for Kroger customers to benefit, Kentucky football fans to benefit, and ultimately the entire community to benefit,” said Calvin Kaufman, president of Kroger’s Louisville Division. “We look forward to showing what can be accomplished when two iconic brands like UK and Kroger, which have similar values and rich heritage, work together on health and wellness initiatives, community engagement, and enhanced experiences for our customers and fans.”

The venue has been known as Commonwealth Stadium since its original construction in 1973. It received a "re-opening" in 2015 after a major renovation project.To avoid confusion with the new stadium name, the playing field will be renamed to C.M. Newton Grounds at Kroger Field in honor of the former UK athletics director. The playing surface was named in his honor in 2000.

“My family and I are thankful to President Capilouto, Mitch Barnhart and everyone at UK for including us in the decision to rename the playing field,” C.M. Newton said. “We are proud of the time we spent at UK and excited for years of Kentucky football to come on C.M. Newton Grounds at Kroger Field.”

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