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Kentucky Inks Stadium Naming Rights Deal with Kroger

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Copyright 2017 Knoxville News-Sentinel Co.
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Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)

 

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Commonwealth Stadium is no more. The home of the Kentucky football program since 1973 will be known as Kroger Field moving forward.

"Our football stadium, we've continued to sort of revamp that and remold it a little bit," UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart said. "I don't think we're done. We will continue to do things that try to give us the best chance to invest in our program."

As part of the new naming agreement, the playing field, formerly known as C.M. Newton Field at Commonwealth Stadium, will be renamed C.M. Newton Grounds at Kroger Field to avoid any confusion with the new stadium name.

The ability to sell naming rights for UK's athletics facilities became available to JMI Sports as part of its $210 million contract for UK's athletics and campus multimedia marketing rights announced in 2014. Conversations about changing the name of the football stadium first began as part of those negotiations and were concluded recently with the 12-year agreement starting at $1.85 million annually between Kroger and JMI.

While Kroger's payments will be made to JMI Sports, UK has final approval of any naming rights agreements for its facilities. Barnhart said he was pleased to see JMI find a naming rights partner that was interested in a broader initiative on campus and around the state.

As part of the deal, Kroger also becomes the official fuel partner of the university, grocery partner of campus move-in and pharmacy and nutrition partner of UK Athletics. Kroger and UK will also partner to form the "Kroger Fields Community Program" to improve youth athletic fields throughout the state and will host a race - the Simple Truth 5K - that will finish at the 50-yard line of the football stadium at a to-be-determined date.

"Today's announcement is truly an investment in the communities we serve," said Calvin Kaufman, president of Kroger's Louisville division. "It's so much more than a name on a stadium."

The decision to sell corporate naming rights to the football stadium was met with resistance from some Kentucky football fans on social media as the news of the new name began to leak Monday.

"I love our fans," Barnhart said. "We want to make sure that we are always listening, but at the end of the day, I've still got to put the enterprise of making sure our young people have the best opportunity to compete in this SEC."

UK is the first SEC program to sell naming rights to its football stadium.

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May 3, 2017
 
 
 

 

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