OREM After striking out twice, Utah Valley State College may have hit a home run with Brent and Kim Brown.
The automobile dealer and his wife signed their names to a deal Wednesday promising $1 million to the school in exchange for the naming rights to the college's baseball stadium for the next 10 years.
The stadium, which will be called Brent Brown Ballpark, is home to the Orem Owlz minor league baseball team and UVSC's men's baseball and women's softball squads.
"We are excited that this is a first-class facility, and it will have a first-class name associated with it," UVSC President William Sederburg said Wednesday at a press conference announcing the deal.
Phoenix homebuilder Ira Fulton will match the Browns' donation with $1 million of $5 million he promised to donate to encourage lawmakers to bestow university status on UVSC.
UVSC will become Utah Valley University July 1, 2008, and Fulton will donate the $1 million for the stadium over the next five years.
On Wednesday, the Browns gave UVSC the first of 10 annual $100,000 installments the first actual check UVSC has received from a would-be naming rights donor.
The Browns are the third donors to promise big money for naming rights.
In 1999, Utah County businessman Gary Brinton pledged $750,000 for naming rights, but the deal fell through two years later because he couldn't agree with college administrators on the size, scope and cost of the project, college officials said.
In 2003, Craig Pickering and Heath Johnston, the developers of Parkway Crossing apartment and retail complex in Orem, pledged $1.7 million for naming rights.
In 2004, Johnston backed out of the Parkway Crossing project, and in November 2004, when Parkway Crossing's first payment was due, money never came.
At the time, a college spokesman said Parkway Crossing was having cash-flow problems because of low vacancy rates.
The Deseret Morning News has tried to reach Pickering for more than two years to discuss the unfulfilled baseball-stadium pledge. He has not returned phone calls, including one to his home Wednesday.
UVSC has made all the bond debt payments on time, including the portions Parkway Crossing had agreed to pay, with revenue from the campus bookstore and food services department.
The donations from the Browns and Fultons "does take the pressures off," said UVSC budget director, Linda Makin.
Parkway Crossing has since been sold to new owners. A manager at the complex said she could not tell the Morning News the name of the new owner. A message left for a higher-level manager went unreturned.
"I feel very good about the relationship we have with the Browns," said Val Peterson, a UVSC vice president. "I have been working with them since January."
The Browns contacted USVC about the deal. They have donated in the past to elementary and secondary education and wanted to help higher education.
"You guys give an opportunity for local kids to go to college. Without being too specific, it has become" too difficult to get into nearby Brigham Young University, Brent Brown said.
"This isn't the old technical college like when I was living in Mapleton (as a child)," he added. "This is the real deal."
Some of the Brown children have attended or are attending UVSC, as well as the children of many employees of the dealership at 1995 N. University Parkway, just three miles from the stadium, which is on the east side of the University Parkway exit of I-15.
"We liked the baseball stadium because of its location," Brent Brown said. "In almost everything, we look at it from a civic standpoint and a business standpoint."Comment on this story
Sports reporters covering events at the stadium had previously been told not to call it the Parkway Crossing Stadium. On Wednesday afternoon, however, the general manager of the Orem Owlz sent out a statement requesting reporters to call the stadium "Home of the Owlz."
"While the Owlz recognize the efforts of the school as unique in receiving financial benefits," said Zachary Fraser, "during the Pioneer League Championship Season, the stadium will continue to be referred to by the name that has gained the facility national attention, 'Home of the Owlz.'"