Football: Cal to get $18 mil for 15-year field naming rights deal with mobile video game maker

Cal will announce a 15-year naming rights deal for the field at Memorial Stadium in a Thursday press conference, according to the firm that brokered the deal.

A Bay Area-based corporate sponsor with ties to Cal is on board, said Jesse Ryback, director of business development for Premier Partnerships.

UPDATE: The New York Times reported Wednesday night that the naming rights have gone to a mobile video game maker, which will pay Cal $18 million over 15 years for the playing surface to be called Kabam Field.

Earlier, Ryback identified the partner as a non-traditional sponsor, similar to the deal his company arranged with the O.co Coliseum in Oakland.

Cal confirmed Wednesday night it will host a news conference Thursday afternoon at Memorial Stadium with the purpose of announcing “a long-term field naming rights partnership.”

According to the NY Times story, Kabam will get its name on the two 25-yard lines at Cal, and signage on the 50-yard line.

Kevin Chou, Kabam’s co-founder and chief executive, is a Cal alumnus, as are two of the other four co-founders, the NY Times reported.

“It will be the most significant naming rights for a field to date for a college venue,” Ryback said, stressing that the field sponsorship won’t alter the traditional Memorial Stadium name.

“We’d be shocked if it wasn’t replicated by a number of universities across the country to unlock revenue,” he said.

Kabam, which makes “Kingdoms of Camelot” and “The Hobbit: Armies of the Third Age,” will also be establishing a scholarship program, library donations, internships, as well as executive exchanges, an “innovation lab” for developing projects, and an interactive gaming zone at the stadium, the NY Times story said.

Ryback said Cal hired Premier Partnerships last February and his firm, with offices in Los Angeles and New York, identified high-level prospective partners.

“It’s a great fit all-around. We’re really excited about it,” Ryback said.

The news could be significant to Cal, which faces a $474 million, long-term debt to pay off renovations and earthquake retrofit work at Memorial Stadium along with the year-old Simpson Center high-performance training center.

Jeff Faraudo

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    Let me guess – Could it be The Biggest Loser?

  • HeteroscedasticBear


    They’re trying to name the field, you idiot, not your father, nor your mother nor your university.

  • rotfogel

    Here’s a couple of guesses:
    The Wal-Mart field of dreams
    The Lucky Zucky Mark Zuckerberg field of stolen ideas
    The Bayer Lair (my favorite)

  • Rollonubears

    BP pavilion at TEPCO Field.

  • DaveintheHills

    I’m sure the new sponsor *loves* the loss of a home game next year (and potentially all (?) Thursday/Friday) home games.

    Football stadiums aren’t baseball or basketball. Not that many events to leverage.

  • 707 Bear

    As the biggest defender/whiner of the tradition of afternoon football, I have no problem with this. It will always be Memorial to me, and let’s face it, we need the dough.

    However, no more UPS sponsoring the game ball. The sight of that poor UPS driver running off the field after “delivering” the game ball is burned into my brain.

  • Larry


  • Juancho

    Barbour is grasping at straws.

    This is another decision I am completely against. Because of her bad business decisions she is destroying our traditions to avoid the financial fiasco she helped put in place.

    Thanks Sandy.

  • 707 Bears

    What’s in a name? A Memorial by any other name would be just as awesome.

    If you want to stop the commercialism of college football, too late.

    Stop the ads during TV timeouts; that would change my life for the better.

  • Juancho

    Chevron field at Memorial Stadium.

    That really has zero impact on you? To me it’s also about the trend of reactive measures being taken in order to correct for the bigger financial mistakes in the ESP strategy for thew new stadium.

    We can’t sell tickets? Then let’s sell the branding of our program.

    We can’t win a game? Let’s play at the niners stadium.

    We are being drilled further down the ladder of relevance? Let’s re-brand the sports teams.

  • Juancho

    The problem is the poor performance of the team and the awful quality of the product on the field.

    And none of the areas the administration seems to be focusing on address any of it.

    What move have we made to improve coaching or recruiting for next year? From what it seems it will be the same cast of characters as this year. With players leaving the program, and a mediocre recruiting class.

    But we are supposed to expect different results while doing the same thing. While competitors make moves to get better, a la USC.

    But hey, we’ll play at the niner’s stadium and we have a new bear to put on t shirts. And soon we’ll be able to play on Chevron or Levi’s Field.

    When the stadium was named to commemorate those who gave their life in War.

  • discdude

    I guess I’m just not caring that much about the naming. But what bothers me is why so long with a company most people don’t know? Why not try it for 5 years? No one even knows if these guys will be around for 15 years. And if what the consultant says is true, that this is the first of its kind and will get copied elsewhere, prices will go up and Cal will be looking back in 5 years at $30M deals thinking “Why did we do such a long deal?” Sigh.

  • discdude

    Now that I think about…I guess that’s why they are paying. To get known. Mission accomplished (as long as the football product improves). The corporate ranks of Kabam are filled with Cal alums.

  • Sean

    On the other hand…getting that much money ($270 mil+) given the current state of the football program is pretty miraculous. Whomever made that deal happen on the Cal side oughta be moved to the recruiting staff…

  • Juancho

    Sean its 18 mil total. Not per year.

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    Well at least it wasn’t The Biggest Loser but I can’t believe the paltry amount!

    Hey the rate you guys are going you need another $400+ million in sponsorship. At that amount you should have every 5 yards for advertisement. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sandy let Stanford buy some signage. With all the money they have made over the past 4 years with major bowl games and TV contracts they can afford it.

  • Eric

    I personally hate naming rights. It is bad enough at the pro level, but at the college level it is offensive. Hearing the “Rose Bowl Presented by AT&T” or whatever it is now is worse than fingernails on a chalk board. I hope the English Premier League never changes Old Trafford, White Hart Lane, etc.

    But it is here to say and universities need the money – if companies are dumb enough to pay money to put their name on a field or a marquee, let them be the suckers. And “Kabam” is far less offensive than “Overstock.com” or “Lincoln Financial”. I’ll bet money that (a) the field name will change again within five years and (b) Kabam either will go bust or will become so wealthy they’ll put their name on a new stadium for the Raiders.

  • John

    Your consistent negativity is really astonishing. This is a$18M that the University didn’t have before. What is your problem? A logo on the field? Get over it. Jeeminy. You are a complainer of the worst kind. The QB is not right, the Stadium name isn’t what I want…blah blah blah.

    Why don’t you step up to the table and donate a few million bucks and stop bitching about it online?

    Sandy’s made mistakes. But what do you expect her to do? You criticize her for not getting the stadium built on time or on budget…then she gets it built, and you criticize her for trying to cover the cost overruns… Unless you are an ESP seat license holder, I say you have absolutely no grounds to complain. Buy your tickets and just go root for the Bears. Or you know what, don’t. We won’t miss you either way. But stop filling up these boards and the rest of the Cal community with negativity. It does nothing but spoil everyone’s day.

  • Eric


    I have not always been agreement with those who are negative towards Dykes or the athletic department generally. And come January 1 I’ll voice my thoughts on the season and why, despite a horrible, horrible season there is solid reasons to believe we can go bowling next year.

    Some of those with a pessimistic view of the current state of the program are worse than others in their rhetoric, but some make reasonable points worth debating. Juancho is one of the good guys in this regard, and has a clear love of the university, the program, and others on this blog (even those who probably disagree with him).

    I do wish people were less negative/pessimistic (or, if they are inclined to be that way, to have voiced this back in 2008 when Sandy gave Tedford the extension, or even earlier when there were clear signs of coaching issues). But we just went through a season where we went 1-11, got blown out by Stanford (who may be going to the Rose Bowl again), had every bounce of the ball go against us, and had quite possibly the worse set of injuries of any major conference team in the BCS era, all when we have a new coach who is supposed to get a honeymoon but now is almost assuredly on the hot seat in 2014. Probably better to vent now, and grab on to optimism for next season.

  • John

    His complaining annoys me if nothing else.

    It’s always “something.”

  • Daredevil fan

    John, to want better for the program you love is being a true fan. To voice ideas and criticism and conjecture on a blog is thought provoking and therapeutic.

    In contrast to applaud complacency and failure and to attack those who would debate and fight to make things better is the sign of low level cowardly mentality. If you are a true fan embrace passionate discussion. If not please move on.

  • BlueNGold

    Juancho does not approve the field naming deal because it does not comport with his notion of ‘tradition’ and what is good and commendable about college football. Unfortunately, the financial realities of the Cal athletic program make such marketing gimmicks necessary in today’s environment. Playing the Oregon game at Levis stadium next September falls into the same category. Its all part of the economic model of which the football program is supposed to be the major revenue source for the entire athletics dept. You should be thankful that they did not rename the stadium itself.

  • Juancho

    I do not disagree with your comment 6. However the stadium financing is such a disaster (think Detroit) and now with a bad team not filling seats and I don’t think they have much choice. Got to make money somehow so they can to close the deficit. The way I look at is that at least someone is thinking creatively up there since it is certainly not our OC or DCs…

  • BlueNGold

    moronsarecoming –

    11+ years of stalking Cal fans and trolling Cal sports blogs because…
    it has no other life…

  • covinared

    When I was at Cal, we had a Pizza Hut sign on the scoreboard and no nattering nabobs of negativism read anything into it. We need some green. A Cal guy will give it for a little play. No need to over analyze it.

  • Pappy’s Boy

    Does this mean we get to move the Oregon game back to Memorial, err Kaboom . . .

  • Ursus arctos horribilis

    One bad decision begets another. Barbour cares nothing about traditions. Sandy, please leave now.

  • Pappy’s Boy

    I’m OK with this. We may not like it, but the Athletic Department is bleeding. I’m not a fan of naming rights either, but we need the dough. I much prefer this solution than moving primo home games to Santa Clara. I’m sure once we get over the initial shock of the logo, it will become merely background noise.

  • john

    Whatever…you want to think. The reality is that the people that comment here are the lunatic fringe. It’s true. And well maybe I guess I am joining them by adding to the discussion here, I just cannot keep my mouth shut any longer. You guys should just realize that this is not the seventies anymore. Cal has been passed bye by nearly every single institution in the country. Do you think that you would be happy as an oregon fan now? Well it depends, do you want to win or do you want to have no corporate logos on your stadium? My point is that you are living in a world that doesn’t exist. and as far as I am concerned, I would want to win. And I would want something positive to root for. It takes money to get that. and there is no other way to get money in the quantities that is necessary these days but to sell corporate sponsorship. If you have another way, I’d like to hear it.

    so the people here who are complaining have a simple choice to make. Continue to lament over the fact that this is not the good old college football that they remember, or they can get with the times. I choose to live in the present, and I know that the present requires cash. What is so problematic for you, the fact that there will be a logo on the field, or that it’s in the name? Do you really care? When you talk to your friends are you going to say hey I’m going to the Cal game at Memorial Stadium, or are you going to say I am going to Kabam field at Memorial Stadium? Does this really affect your life at all? Can you please name one single thing that negatively impacts you as a fan because of this.

    I get it, I prefer just the Rose Bowl instead of the Rose Bowl presented by AT&T. But it doesn’t bother me nearly as much as it bothers you guys. I understand that in order to put on the type of event that they need to put on they need to sell the rights for it. Oh well so is life. Get over it.

  • ScottyBear

    Agree with Juancho. Disagree with John. $18 million for 15 years is paltry compared to what is owed for the stadium, and these naming right deals usually are more for the association with the brand than the money. Was this a one-off deal or did we really go through the marketing bid process? Google, Levi’s, Facebook or Old Navy didn’t step up? Kraft Fight Food Hunger? Blue Diamond?

  • Bobsac

    There is actually hope now on the Titanic. Desperate times require desparate measures. The $18 million can be used to fire Sonny, hire Ed Ogeron who didn’t get the USC job despite his inspiring work there as interim coach, & we & the team can actually look forward to next season.

    Morale & spirit are huge. 2013 was like the Great Depression for Cal football. Herbert Hoover ( Stanford guy by the way) had to be dumped in the 1932 election. There had to be a change. FDR inspired the nation & the Greatest Generation got the stuff done, fought the Depression & beat the Nazis.

    The team & the fans need a change. The Big U needs to get it done–can Sonny & bring on Ed.

  • Joe Bear

    If Cal football has another season even close to the one it just completed, then the field might as well be called Ka-Boom Field, just like the status of the football program.

  • Boaltblue

    For those of you who criticize Sandy, please keep your criticsm to the football team results. I give her tremendous credit for renovating the stadium and building the training center. No matter what happens regarding the financing or payment/nonpayment of the debt, the fans will be able to enjoy those improvements for many, many years. I doubt that ticket prices will escalate so long as the team does not improve greatly, otherwise, we will truly have an empty stadium. Sort of like having someone else pay for an upgrade on the house in which you live.

    I am with Bobsac on using the money from the field naming to shop for a new coach NOW! As for the lousy contracts that Cal has signed giving low performers guaranteed contracts, that just shows lack of foresight. Ya gotta have an escape clause if your coaching staff cannot coach or get any semblance of mediocrity when the goal is excellence.

  • Larry

    There will be no coaching changes for at least the next two seasons. Dream on.

    They will NOT pay 3 coaches at the same time. Won’t happen. This $18 mil will be banked.

    Do folks think that once the stadium is paid off, tickets will become free and there will be no more naming rights, etc? Pandora’s box has been opened! You will see.

  • Sadly agree with Larry — for better or worse we have Dykes and his coaching team for another 2 years. It maybe fun to blog otherwise, but ain’t happening, not at Cal. We don’t have the money of USC. Another year with three wins or less maybe they sacrifice the DC — like they did in Florida this year with the OC.

    By the way I think the person who devised the financing plan for the stadium was not SB, but the prior Vice Chancellor for Admin. The current team is doing all it can to work its way out of the mess created, includes naming rights etc. I am sure they left no stone un-turned in looking for the most $$$. Without the new Pac 12 TV deal the pain would be much worse.

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    You know I am so offended by the way you CSU East Bay fans have trivialized the renaming of the stadium. The stadium was named for soldiers who fought for our freedom but none of you even care about that. Isn’t anything sacred to the fans of this school?

    I may leave this blog for good. You aren’t worth my efforts.

  • BlueNGold

    If anyone has harbored any lingering doubts that moron is nothing short of a blithering idiot, post #31 should be the clincher. First of all, the stadium has not, and will not, be renamed. Get your facts straight (if indeed you are capable of doing so) and stop spewing unadulterated lies and drivel here. No one wants you or needs you. In fact, I dare you to leave this blog “for good”. See how many real Cal fans go looking for you and begging you to come back. On second thought, it could severely deflate what little self esteem you seem to possess. In short, get lost, moron!

  • BlueNGold

    Go ahead and “leave this blog for good”, moron. Just don’t let the door swat your fat pimply ass on the way out. And don’t expect anyone here to come looking for you and begging you to come back. It will not happen. ‘Worth your efforts’? ROFL!! Your “efforts” are only directed at trash talk, spewing insults, name calling and posting outright LIES (the stadium is not being renamed; more lies from moron). You and everything you post here is worthless. Go away now!

  • John

    Since when is $18M a “paltry” amount?

    Give me a break, guys, seriously? Can anyone give me an example of a tangible way that this negatively affects your enjoyment of Cal football in any meaningful way? Are you worried that the logo will look ugly on the field? Are you worried that someone is going to force you to start using the term Kabam when talking about the stadium? What is it, seriously, that is so offensive to you?

    Look, there will be two logos on the field. Get over it. Other than that, the sponsorship doesn’t have any other impact on you watching a Cal football game.

    And frankly, for $18M, that’s the least they should get.

  • John

    What still blows my mind is that some of you apparently think this is still the 70’s. Face it, Cal had been surpassed by every other team in the Pac-12 until they got the stadium done last year. They HAD to fix it to keep up. We as a collective group have been complaining about facilities since I started at Cal back in the mid 90’s.

    You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Do you want a “pure” college football experience with no corporate sponsorship, or do you want a football team that can compete on a national level? If I assume you want the latter, then you just have to get with the program and realize that it takes CASH to make that happen.

    This is not the same college football landscape as it was for many of you when you went to school. Cal has to either adapt or die…

    For those of you who are against taking a $18M in exchange for a logo and a sign…please answer the most basic question that has to be answered…HOW ELSE ARE YOU GOING TO RAISE MONEY? We can’t fix it all with season ticket sales, and when they do raise ticket prices you guys complain they are too high…and none of you are likely ESP seat license holders anyway.

    So if it’s not with ticket sales or sponsorship, how in the world do you expect to come up with the capital needed to compete? Please, I beg you to answer this question and lay out a plan that is better than turning away an $18M gift horse.

  • John

    Please explain something to me…since when is $18M a “paltry amount?”

    Look, this isn’t the 70’s anymore. The landscape of college football has changed. Cal has been passed by by every single team in the conference. They HAD to get the stadium built, and they HAVE to pay for it.

    If you have another way to raise money other than corporate sponsorhip I’d like to hear it! They can’t raise ticket prices, and nobody on this board is buying ESP seats…so what exactly do you suggest?

  • And to rub salt in the bear wound Dawgs land Petersen as their head coach…easily an upgrade given his coaching and recruiting record…

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    Maybe you can ask Stanford for a loan since this is a new era.

    After all the money they have made the past few years from BCS bowls and TV rights they are flush.

  • BlueNGold

    You know all about “The Biggest Loser” don’t you moron?

    Isn’t that the story of your life?