The Univ. of California-Berkeley has signed mobile video game producer Kabam to a 15-year, $18M deal for field naming rights at its football stadium. The official name is now Kabam Field at California Memorial Stadium, the first college sports facility to be named for a video game company. In addition, the deal carries the highest value among field naming rights in college sports, topping the 25-year, $20M agreement for the Univ. of Maryland’s Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium. For Cal, the cash helps fill a funding shortfall tied to the school’s $321M renovation completed in '12, said school COO & Deputy AD Solly Fulp. Kabam, a S.F.-based tech firm whose investors include Google, Intel, Warner Bros. and MGM, launched four years ago with 25 employees. Since that time, Kabam has grown to 650 employees and its revenues have increased to more than $350M annually from people paying for premium content tied to its fantasy games, including titles revolving around three films, "The Hobbit," "The Godfather" and "The Fast and the Furious."
SCHOOL TIES: A large number of Kabam employees are Cal graduates, including three of its four co-Founders -- CEO Kevin Chou, GM Michael Li and Chief of Staff Holly Liu -- as well as COO Chris Carvalho. Those deep ties to the university helped close the deal, said Premier Partnerships Managing Dir and Cal alum Jeff Marks, who was the lead negotiator for the school. As a result, Kabam and Cal reached a deal four months after the two began talks at the start of football season, Marks said. Beginning next season, in-stadium activation will include Kabam logos placed on the 25-yard lines at Memorial Stadium, an interactive gaming area in the stadium, and digital messaging on a new LED video board at field level on the 50-yard line. As part of the deal, Kabam has committed to funding a scholarship and hiring Cal students as interns and having more of its execs speak on campus, Carvalho said. The official field logos will be unveiled during Cal’s spring game in March. Fulp said the school initially contacted more than 350 companies and had significant conversations with 50 firms before giving presentations to 10 finalists. Premier Dir of Business Development Jesse Ryback and VP/Marketing Services Stephanie Cheng also worked on the agreement. Seth Jacobs with CAA Sports consulted with Kabam on the agreement.
The Univ. of Colorado Board of Regents yesterday unanimously voted to approve the school's $143M facilities redesign and upgrade plan. The plan will see an indoor multipurpose practice facility added, the refurbishment of the Dal Ward Athletics Center, and the addition of a 21,900-square-foot sports center and a rooftop terrace at Folsom Field (CU). In Boulder, Sarah Kuta in a front-page piece notes the plan "is an update" from the $170M facilities proposal presented in February. CU AD Rick George said that more than $10M "has been pledged for the project from private donors so far." He added that the school will now "begin a public fundraising campaign to attract more donors and corporate partnerships." Kuta notes the upgrades "will be funded solely by the athletic department and by auxiliary, non-state funds." CU "will need to 'identify' roughly" $47M in donations "before construction can begin." Construction "could begin as early as next summer." George said, "We'd like to have this complete, hopefully in its entirety, by the time we start the fall of 2015." He added that the additions of a new end zone club, club seating and loge boxes at the Dal Ward Athletics Center "will generate an additional" $1M on gamedays. George said that the proposed indoor practice facility "can house several thousand tailgaters and can be rented out for conferences and events." Boulder campus officials said that the plan "will go before the Colorado Legislature's capital development committee for approval next year" (Boulder DAILY CAMERA, 12/5). George said that revenues also "would be derived by constructing a 12,000-square-foot retail area at the south end of Folsom Field." He said the upgrade "wasn't a want; it's a need." In Denver, Anthony Cotton writes CU's athletic facilities are "considered to be far below those of its peers in the Pac-12" (DENVER POST, 12/5).
California-based Spotlight TMS, which manages corporate ticket sales for a variety of entities, has struck a partnership with Ticketmaster to become directly integrated into the ticketing giant's platform. The deal will allow Spotlight TMS corporate clients to access their tickets online and through mobile channels, as well as see other available ticketing options all from one portal. Spotlight TMS holds a similar relationship with StubHub, but this deal marks the company's first deep integration with a primary ticketing outfit. Spotlight TMS CEO & co-Founder Tony Knopp said, "This is really going to help advance digital ticket delivery on the corporate side." Financial terms were not disclosed, but the deal is based largely on revenue sharing.
In Chicago, John Byrne reports the Cubs yesterday "got preliminary approval" from the city's aldermen for an ordinance to give the team "more flexibility to schedule night games." But the Cubs' efforts to set up an outdoor plaza next to Wrigley Field "ran into a delay so neighborhood residents can get a closer look at the details." Alderman Tom Tunney said that community groups "want to hear more about what the Cubs have in mind for the plaza, which could allow the team to host noisy bands as a way to attract people on nongame days" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 12/5).
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: In Portland, Michael Russell reported the Rose Quarter and the Trail Blazers plan to "launch a new restaurant in the space currently home to The Game sports bar." The new restaurant, which "does not yet have a name, is expected to open in February and will occupy about 7,000 square feet." It will be "managed by Levy Restaurants, the Chicago-based food and beverage services company that recently took over culinary operations at the Rose Quarter and Moda Center" (OREGONLIVE.com, 12/4).
LET THE LIGHT SHINE IN: In Sacramento, Matthew Barrows notes the design of Levi's Stadium "doesn't lend itself to capturing noise." Whereas CenturyLink Field "shields the rain, the facility in Santa Clara's welcomes the region's abundant sunlight." Levi's Stadium has a "large lower bowl and places fans closer to the field than at Candlestick Park." But the stadium's "central theme is its openness." It also has "gaps on either side of the suite tower on the west side, which will allow decibels to escape into the ether" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 12/5).
HOW TO BUILD AN IGLOO: In Pittsburgh, Mark Belko reports the Penguins are "delaying the submission of formal plans to redevelop the former Civic Arena site after Hill District residents railed against the level of affordable housing included in the proposal." Team officials had hoped to "submit a preliminary land development plan and a request for a new zoning district to Pittsburgh planners next week but now have delayed that indefinitely" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 12/5).