Cal -- which plays at Kabam Field at California Stadium -- nets $1.2 million annually for their naming rights, while "Alaska Airlines Field" at Husky Stadium will generate more than $40 million for Washington over the next decade.
UW's new deal, worth $4.1 million annually, appears to be the largest in the nation. The next-highest naming payout we could find was the $1.5 million per year Houston gets from playing in TDECU Stadium. The Husky deal suggests the market may be ready to rise – perhaps not as explosively as the shoe and apparel sponsorship market has, but significantly nonetheless.
Washington State has nine more years to go on its shoe and apparel deal with Nike. While its $2.2 million per year total in cash and product isn’t peanuts (and doubles WSU's original contract with Nike), the agreement UCLA announced Tuesday ($270 million over 15 years) and the one Cal announced last month ($86 million over 10 years) clearly have taken the apparel market to another level. By virtue of the length of the new contract WSU signed with Nike last year -- and the fact UCLA, Cal and most of the Pac-12 play far more sports than WSU and possess larger marketplace footprints -- there's no way WSU will rival its Pac-12 brethren in apparel contract revenue.
That means the only school in the Pac-12 that's located in a true college town must peel the proverbial union differently.
Cougar athletic director Bill Moos sounded lukewarm in March when asked about selling the naming rights to Martin Stadium and/or the field at Martin.
“I wouldn’t say no, but the money would have to be right,” Moos said. “Because I have a conflict in the traditional part of me and the aggressive part of me.”
Martin Stadium opened in 1972, on top of the old Rogers Field, and the naming rights cost the family of former Gov. Clarence Martin a total of $250,000. It doesn't appear there are any stipulations on the length the name had to stay on the building, but after four-plus decades I think it's fair to say the Martins made a whale of tribute to the governor. That $250,000 donation averages out to the name Martin on the stadium for $5,681 per year.
Whether it's a corporation (Starbucks Coffee Grounds anyone?) or another family or individual, field and/or stadium naming rights seem a logical avenue -- now more than ever -- to pursue. The idea has been floating around Cougarville a good 10 years or more and my sense is that the only reason it has yet to happen is the scarcity of businesses or donors ready to jump at a $5 million or $10 million commitment for field rights or a $10 million to $25 million obligation for stadium-naming rights.
But the winds seems to be blowing the Cougars' way given the trend in apparel contracts and the size of UW's deal with Alaska. Plus, the economy in the state is doing well and the new president of WSU, Kirk Schulz, is a proven rainmaker in fundraising.
Now is the time.
Moreover, WSU selling naming rights to the stadium and/or field wouldn’t just be about the money itself -- it would also be a revenue stream that nine other Pac-12 schools don’t currently have.
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