Goodbye Commonwealth Stadium, Hello Kroger Field
The University of Kentucky’s Commonwealth Stadium is set to become Kroger Field. The name change marks the first corporate sponsorship for an SEC football stadium.
"It is an unprecedented partnership that pairs two iconic brands," UK President Eli Capilouto told reporters Monday.
The new annual $1.85 million dollar agreement between university marketing partner JMI Sports and the grocery chain means the home of the UK football team will soon be rechristened. The name swap is just part of a wide-reaching campus marketing partnership – with Kroger becoming the official sponsor of UK Athletics nutrition and pharmacy, fuel, and even Move-In Day.
"If I said to our fans, what's most important - how we get there, in terms of the names and things like that, or do you want us to compete well and have really quality student athletes - I think that they would all say that they would all say let's go do something best for our student athletes and give us the best chance we can to compete," UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said.
That didn’t stop a flood of reaction from pouring in on social media – with many fans mourning the loss of the Commonwealth moniker, which has been attached to the stadium since its construction in 1973.
One Wildcat fan tweeted to WUKY that she was saddened by the announcement, adding “loved and grew up with Commonwealth Stadium.” Others jokingly asked if patrons would be need to bring their Kroger cards to get in.
UK officials say the deal – which is effective immediately with a term of up to 12 years – will result in an enhanced experience for the fans and athletes alike.
The stadium name change still needs board of trustee approval. If successful, the Wildcats will be playing in Kroger Field by this September.
Update: Asked whether the university would consider offering corporate renaming rights for Rupp Arena, UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart told reporters the arena is "too iconic" of a venue to consider a name change.