This is a first for the SEC: Naming rights to Commonwealth Stadium have been sold by the University of Kentucky, resulting in Kroger Field for the 2017 season and beyond.
The naming-rights deal is part of a larger sponsorship agreement between Kroger and UK Athletics and the University of Kentucky.
“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. It begins at approximately $1.85 million annually with a term of up to 12 years.
“Three years ago, we had this day in mind when we reached our new multimedia rights agreement with JMI Sports,” Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said. “We are proud to have a partner in Kroger that shares our commitment to making this state and university the best they can be. This partnership goes well beyond the naming of Kroger Field and we are excited to see the good it will do for years to come.”
The Kroger Field name – which is subject to approval by the UK Board of Trustees on Tuesday – will be reflected on interior, external and directional signage, as well as collateral materials related to the football stadium.
As noted, the agreement is pitched as extended beyond just the naming-rights deal. For example, Kroger and UK will work together to improve community fields across the Commonwealth as part of the Kroger Fields Community Program and a community 5K race – the Simple Truth 5K – will finish at the 50-yard line at 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 football playing field will be renamed to C.M. Newton Grounds at Kroger Field. The playing field was named C.M. Newton Field in honor of the former UK athletics director in 2000.
As noted, the deal was put together by collegiate marketing firm JMI Sports, formed in 2006 by CEO Erik Judson, and technology entrepreneur John Moores, former owner of the San Diego Padres.