Colorado State University has announced one of the largest collegiate athletic venue naming agreements in history, a $37.7 million deal that will help launch an ambitious rebranding initiative by the new stadium sponsor and official credit union partner, Public Service Credit Union.
The agreement, which when added to the $20 million given in 2016 to name Sonny Lubick Field, brings the total naming rights revenues at Colorado State to $57 million for the stadium. This is comparable to the recently announced $69 million United Airlines Memorial Coliseum at University of Southern California and the $41 million Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium at the University of Washington. The Colorado State agreement with PSCU, announced April 19, is for 15 years and includes annual escalator clauses for inflation, as well as a signing bonus in recognition of the visibility and success of the new on-campus stadium, which begins its second football season in August after setting numerous records during its first year of operation.
Public Service Credit Union is a not-for-profit, state-chartered, member-owned financial cooperative that has been in business since 1938. Today, the credit union has more than $2.3 billion in assets and more than 230,000 members – and a mission to help individuals and families make better decisions and grow stronger financially. PSCU agreed to become the title sponsor of the new stadium as part of an overall rebranding initiative and planned public rollout of a new name, which will be unveiled in the coming weeks. Learfield’s Rams Sports Properties and their Campus+ business brokered the agreement as part of its ongoing support for Colorado State University athletics.
The Sonny connection
The playing field will continue to be named for the Rams’ legendary head coach Sonny Lubick, who also happens to serve as Vice President of Community Outreach for the credit union.
“This is a partnership that makes so much sense for our university community and for Public Service Credit Union, and we’re thrilled to announce this new agreement,” said CSU President Tony Frank. “Our stadium will carry the name of a Colorado-based business that shares our commitment to creating opportunity and opening doors for people at all income levels. Our mission and our values as a university align so well with those of PSCU, and the investment by the credit union and its members in our campus and programs will bring great visibility to how much they accomplish as a visionary community partner.”
“Public Service Credit Union stands shoulder to shoulder with CSU. We are united in our love for Colorado, investing in the people and communities we serve, so that when they succeed, we all succeed,” said Public Service Credit Union President & CEO, Todd Marksberry. “This partnership has been 10 years in the making and ensures that PSCU will help the more than 33,000 CSU students, nearly 1,500 academic faculty, over 4,300 administrative staff along with the nearly 57,000 CSU alumni in the Denver metro area afford life and simultaneously create positive change for our entire membership. We couldn’t think of a better way to create even deeper and broader impact in Colorado.”
According to Marksberry, this collaboration addresses one of the largest strategic challenges facing credit unions today.
“As an industry, credit unions have struggled with awareness,” Marksberry continued. “We frequently think of ourselves as the best kept secret in North America; but, what makes this agreement even more compelling is that it goes beyond awareness and the tremendous honor of naming the stadium. As official credit union, we will be growing relationships with students, faculty, staff and alumni; helping them create brighter financial futures. As we reveal our new brand and name in the coming weeks, we know our members will see just how well it represents both our history and our bright future. We are confident that the University community will be thrilled as well.”
“We have been seeking an appropriate naming rights partner for the stadium and Public Service Credit Union surpasses our expectations on every dimension,” said Joe Parker, director of athletics. “We are thrilled to align with PSCU as we both strive to serve our respective and collective stakeholders in Colorado and beyond. The yet-to-be-announced stadium name (after PSCU finishes its rebranding efforts) will provide the perfect reference for one of the nation’s newest and best collegiate stadiums. We are also grateful to Learfield’s Campus+ team for bringing this premier partnership together.”
Stadium tremendously successful
The $225 million on-campus stadium at Colorado State University opened in the summer of 2017 and brought the pageantry and celebration of Rams football games back to campus for the first time in 50 years, providing countless new engagement opportunities for the entire university. The stadium’s design embraces Colorado’s natural beauty, topography and visual connections to the Rocky Mountains from campus and ensures functionality for both game-day and non-game day usage.
The 727,000-square-foot facility proved immensely popular and attractive to fans in its inaugural season of 2017. The Rams set an all-time attendance record with a total of 192,369 fans and a per-game average of 32,062, representing a 16-percent attendance increase from 2016 — eighth-highest for all of college football. Season ticket sales also reached an all-time high of 15,477, a 40-percent increase from the 2016 total of 11,054.
All of the Rams’ day-to-day football training facilities and offices are located on the west side of the facility. The east side of the building includes the Iris & Michael Smith Alumni Center, general classroom space and the Collaborative for Student Achievement. The playing surface is named Sonny Lubick Field, in honor of the coach who served from 1993-2007, through an anonymous donation announced in March 2016.
The stadium also features two spectacular VIP areas – The New Belgium Porch in the north end zone and the Orthopaedic & Spine Center of the Rockies Field Club behind the Rams’ bench at midfield – each of which is unique in all of college football, as well as a 270-degree open-air concourse. The Smith Alumni Center and new academic space have been integrated into the design to bring students and faculty into the building year-round, and the stadium clubs, VIP areas and other unique meeting spaces provide opportunities for hundreds of non-game day events.
In the stadium’s grand-opening game on Aug. 26, 2017, the Rams defeated Oregon State, 58-27, before a sellout crowd of 37,583, the third-largest crowd in school history.
“The Public Service Credit Union-Colorado State University relationship is an excellent example of how universities can unlock new revenues and tremendous values by engaging corporate partners with an integrated campus-wide approach,” said Solly Fulp, executive vice president of Learfield’s Campus+.
“Colorado State University and Athletics leadership were aligned with Learfield’s Rams Sports Properties and Campus+ to identify the right partner that had a shared mission, values and purpose,” said Amy Parsons, executive vice chancellor of the Colorado State University System. “The opportunity for Public Service Credit Union to have meaningful engagement with Colorado State University students, faculty, staff, alumni and Rams fans over the next 15-plus years makes this a significant partnership on many levels.”
The naming rights agreement also helps bolster the already strong financial picture for the new stadium, which is being funded without state funding or student tuition or fee support. The $57 million in naming rights for the on-campus stadium and Sonny Lubick Field far outpaces projections in the financial plan approved by the university’s Board of Governors.
ABOUT PUBLIC SERVICE CREDIT UNION: Public Service Credit Union (PSCU) has been safe, secure, and insured for the past 80 years. Today, PSCU holds assets in excess of $2.3 billion and has more than 230,000 members. PSCU provides a full array of financial products and services, including savings, checking, loans, mortgages, and online and mobile banking options. Members can access their accounts and conduct transactions at PSCU’s 28 branches, and at over 200 shared branch locations throughout Colorado. In addition, through the credit union’s partnership with the CO-OP network, members have surcharge-free access to more than 30,000 ATMs across the country.
ABOUT LEARFIELD: Learfield’s Campus+ is dedicated to developing comprehensive campuswide relationships that prioritize university brand alignment, impactful student services and increased revenues. Building off Learfield’s athletics multimedia rights relationships with nearly 130 collegiate institutions, conferences and arenas nationwide, Campus+ prioritizes innovative “best in class” partnerships. Campus+ business clients can have deeper engagement with university students, faculty, staff and alumni. Learfield, with a rich history of more than four decades, also can provide collegiate properties access to professional concessions and ticket sales; licensing and trademark consulting; digital and social platform expertise; and venue and technology systems through its affiliated companies.