Experts say Albertsons will capitalize on Boise State brand

Posted by Chadd Cripe on May 22, 2014 

Boise State University President Bob Kustra discusses proposed NCAA reforms and the school's agreement with Albertsons to rename Bronco Stadium.

BRIAN MURPHY — bmurphy@idahostatesman.com

Two experts on stadium naming-rights deals expect the Albertsons Stadium deal announced by Boise State on Wednesday to benefit the school and the grocer.

Albertsons will pay $12.5 million over 15 years for what had been called Bronco Stadium.

“That’s a really good deal,” said Chris Allphin, senior vice president for New York-based Van Wagner Sports and Entertainment. “I think it’s a good deal for both partners.”

E.J. Narcise, a principal and founding partner in Rockville, Md.-based Team Services, expects Albertsons to get creative in using its association with Boise State to its benefit.

“Albertsons has a great deal of flexibility to bringing partners into this,” Narcise said. “… You will have Bronco logos everywhere in their stores. To fully activate this, they’ll try to get it in every aisle — a dairy partner, a tailgate package. You get a great deal of latitude and creativity with a grocer partner. I truly applaud the deal. I think it’s a very strong number for the university. They should be very proud of that. I’m sure the Albertsons people, because of the strength of the brand, they will be able to far exceed what the return on investment is projected to be.

“… When it comes to naming rights, these partnerships go well beyond the name on the building. There were references made to television exposure — all of that is fantastic, it’s certainly a component of the deal. But the driver in deals like this for a brand like Boise State is you are the NFL in that market and you will command the most attention, the most loyalty, the strongest brand recognition.”

Narcise expects Albertsons to spend another $500,000 “activating” its sponsorship.

“A portion of your media has to be centered around Boise State football, Boise State athletics,” he said. “… The Learfield folks are very, very good at what they do. They will get very creative and make sure that Albertsons feels like they’re getting everything and more from this partnership.”

Said Allphin: “Most parties don’t like naming rights that are not activated, just the name slapped on the stadium. Neither group really gets a lot out of it. Boise State is going to look at Albertsons for more than just money … they’re looking for Albertsons to actively market their brand and take advantage of being a part of the game. And Albertsons will expect the same.”

Naming rights for college stadiums are still rare, but it’s becoming more common.

“It’s tough,” Allphin said. “I would say there are very few of them that are not willing to listen to a naming-rights offer. There’s a few.”

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Narcise on Learfield getting 25 percent of the deal:

“Learfield has already bought all of those (advertising) positions, so they have to be compensated for that because they’ve been paying Boise State for how many years now for all their inventory.”

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Allphin on football venues (few games) vs. basketball and baseball venues (many events): “Football is basically double baseball in the open market. Baseball has 81 home games. Football has eight. It comes down to market economics, broadcast exposure. Football is such a valuable commodity.”

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Allphin’s company has worked on naming-rights deals for the Jets/Giants of the NFL and Phillies of MLB. It currently is consulting for the Braves and Vikings on new stadiums.

Narcise’s company has worked on deals for the Texans, Redskins and Ravens in the NFL and Central Florida and Louisville in college.

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Here is the contract provided to the media for the Albertsons Stadium deal. However, the contract references a “Letter Agreement” that includes all dollar figures, including the early termination fee. That agreement was withheld from the media because it is between Learfield Sports and Albertsons and therefore is not considered a public document.

Some interesting nuggets from the deal:

— Albertsons will pay the costs associated with developing a stadium logo. Both sides have the right to approve the logo. Albertsons owns the rights to the logo but granted Boise State royalty-free rights to use it, including on merchandise.

— Albertsons can’t use the stadium name or logo in direct association with any of the following products or classes of services, sell advertising rights to any company that engages in the management of any of the following businesses or include a reference to these products and services on any advertising copy adjacent to the stadium name or logo: gambling (except state-authorized lottery); alcoholic beverages; prophylactics; feminine hygiene products; tobacco products; sexually explicit materials; adult entertainment; religious and/or political materials; ammunition; camouflage and/or firearms; material that is reasonably likely to be considered defamatory, obscene, profane, vulgar or otherwise socially unacceptable; advertising that is reasonably likely to materially discredit the purposes, values, principles or mission of the NCAA or university.

— Albertsons can request to change the stadium name if its ownership changes or it has a strategic reason, such as the company name changing.

— The parties will share the cost of installing the Albertsons Stadium signs and logos.

— Albertsons receives the best suite at the stadium (a $52,000 annual value) as part of its deal. That suite was set aside from the beginning and leased on per-year and per-game contracts.

— No other grocery companies will be allowed to advertise with Boise State for any events held at the stadium, including on radio broadcasts.

— The “Lyle Smith Field” name remains. However, if Boise State decides to sell naming rights to the field, Albertsons gets first shot at that.

— Albertsons can terminate the agreement after the fifth year with at least two years notice. The company would make an early termination payment. That amount is contained in the withheld Letter Agreement.

— Albertsons gets a six-month exclusive negotiating window to extend the contract in 2028. The company also gets 30 days to match any offer to replace it as the naming-rights partner.

— Rights fees are paid directly to Bronco Sports Properties (Learfield).

— Albertsons can receive an adjustment in its rights fee if Boise State does not play all of its home games at Albertsons Stadium, does not play at least six home games or incurs sanctions that prevent the Broncos from appearing in postseason events. Albertsons also can terminate the agreement if Boise State stops using the stadium for its home games, loses Division I FBS status, an unforeseen event causes the school to not play a home game at the stadium for more than 12 months or the school incurs sanctions that ban postseason play.

— Albertsons receives one football game trip for four people each season, including seats on the charter flight, hotel and game tickets.

— Albertsons can use the stadium or Stueckle Sky Center rent-free for non-revenue events, such as a company picnic, executive meeting or charity event.

— Albertsons also gets “inside access to Boise State athletics — coaches’ dinners and pregame VIP on-field passes subject to escort by university.”

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FBS schools with corporate-sponsored stadium names, excluding NFL stadiums:

Boise State: Albertsons Stadium 15 years, $12.5 million (through 2028)

Cal: Kabam Field at California Memorial Stadium 15 years, $18 million (through 2028)

Central Florida: Bright House Networks Stadium 15 years, $15 million (through 2021)

Louisville: Papa John's Cardinal Stadium 52 years, $15 million (through 2039)

Rutgers: High Point Solutions Stadium 10 years, $6.5 million (through 2021)

Maryland: Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium 25 years, $20 million (through 2030)

Syracuse: Carrier Dome Perpetuity, $2.75 million (bought in 1980)

Texas Tech: Jones AT&T Stadium 25 years, $20 million (through 2020)

Minnesota: TCF Bank Stadium 25 years, $35 million (through 2033)

Florida Atlantic: GEO Group Stadium 12 years, $6 million (through 2024)

North Texas: Apogee Stadium 20 years, $20 million (through 2030)

Akron: InfoCision Stadium-Summa Field 20 years, $15 million (through 2028)

Arkansas State: Centennial Bank Stadium 15 years, $5 million (through 2027)

Western Kentucky: Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium Undetermined, $5 million

Wake Forest, BB&T Field Terms not disclosed, 10 years (through 2016)

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Odd footnote: The Tuesday New York Times crossword puzzle featured the clue, "Blue-turfed home for Boise State football." The answer, of course, was Bronco Stadium. On Tuesday. One day later, and the answer technically would have been wrong.

Thanks to reader Charlie Etlinger for the head's up.

•••

Today’s coverage:

News story on Albertsons Stadium

Boise State to fight NCAA reforms, but “pay up” in end

Boise State nears settlement with American conference

Email me at ccripe@idahostatesman.com.

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