Good-bye, University Activity Center. Hello, Wells Fargo Arena. Coach Hec Edmundson, move over for Seafirst Bank.
Colleges all over the country are rushing to cash in on corporate donations, and the time-honored tradition of naming sports venues for athletic heroes is giving way. Athletic departments are now willing to peddle the names of arenas, locker rooms and soccer fields for sizable corporate donations."As a purist, I'd love to think this is not going to be the wave of the future, but I think this is. In this day and age, we're all fighting for funding," said Jim Livengood, president of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics.
Athletic programs are under increasing pressure to be financially independent without raising ticket prices, and they are turning to corporations for help, he said.
After a $5 million donation from Wells Fargo Bank, Arizona State University's basketball and volleyball venue is becoming Wells Fargo Arena.
Arizona State's football locker room is available for $1 million. The gymnastics locker room goes for $100,000.
Marilyn Taylor, a Wells Fargo spokeswoman, said the company has donated large sums to Arizona State before but concedes the arena name brings more visibility. Wells Fargo hopes to target university students as a customer base, she said.
The University of Washington is also joining the renaming game, now that Seafirst Bank promised $5.1 million for renovations of the school's basketball arena.
Instead of Hec Edmundson Pavilion - named for a coach who spent 27 years leading the Huskies - the renovated arena will be called Seafirst Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
Jeff Bechthold, an athletic department spokesman, said while some fans are unhappy with the change, he thinks most are receptive because at least the corporate name belongs to an institution with roots in the Northwest. He said it's certainly better than, say, Value City Arena.
That's the name of Ohio State's new basketball facility, though university officials distinguish it as the name of the seating bowl as opposed to the entire building, called the Jerome Schottenstein Center.
The Schottenstein family, which operates a discount department store chain, donated $12.5 million for the new $105 million structure.
Rick Burton, director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon, said corporate attachment to college arenas may also help companies turn alumni into customers. College fans tend to be more loyal than their major league counterparts, he said.