The University of Kentucky, JMI Sports and Kroger announced a comprehensive and unprecedented partnership that expands Kroger’s commitment to UK Athletics and the University of Kentucky, including the renaming of UK’s football stadium to Kroger Field.
“This is an unprecedented partnership that pairs two iconic brands – UK and Kroger – whose reach extends throughout the Commonwealth and far beyond our borders,” UK President Eli Capilouto said. “Kroger shares our mission to serve Kentucky. And this partnership tangibly advances that mission, as evidenced by what it will allow us to do on our campus, but also as Kroger embarks on an ambitious effort to enhance health and wellness throughout Kentucky.”
The agreement – which is between Kroger and JMI Sports, UK’s multimedia rights partner – is effective immediately. It begins at approximately $1.85 million annually with a term of up to 12 years.
“Three years ago, we had this day in mind when we reached our new multimedia rights agreement with JMI Sports,” Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said. “We are proud to have a partner in Kroger that shares our commitment to making this state and university the best they can be. This partnership goes well beyond the naming of Kroger Field and we are excited to see the good it will do for years to come.”
The Kroger Field name – which is subject to approval by the UK Board of Trustees on Tuesday – will be reflected on interior, external and directional signage, as well as collateral materials related to the football stadium.
“Partnerships have driven every accomplishment we’ve made together,” said Dr. C.B. Akins, Sr., UK trustee and chair of the University Athletics Committee. “We’ve experienced unprecedented growth as an institution – an institution that exists for Kentucky. This partnership with Kroger symbolizes – and extends – that commitment. Because of today’s announcement, we will continue to upgrade the experience for our fans, extend and enhance what we can do for our student-athletes, and provide more in services for our faculty, students and staff.”
What differentiates the agreement is its comprehensive nature that extends on campus at UK and ensures a long-term commitment to the Commonwealth’s flagship university and Kentucky’s children and communities. For example, Kroger and UK will work together to improve community fields across the Commonwealth as part of the Kroger Fields Community Program and a community 5K race – the Simple Truth 5K – will finish at the 50-yard line at the newly renamed Kroger Field.
“The common goal of this partnership is for Kroger customers to benefit, Kentucky football fans to benefit, and ultimately the entire community to benefit,” said Calvin Kaufman, president of Kroger’s Louisville Division. “We look forward to showing what can be accomplished when two iconic brands like UK and Kroger, which have similar values and rich heritage, work together on health and wellness initiatives, community engagement, and enhanced experiences for our customers and fans.”
Through this partnership, Kroger becomes the Official Fuel Partner of the University of Kentucky and the Official Grocery Partner of Move-In at UK while also providing additional engagement opportunities with UK students in discussion now. Per the agreement, Kroger is also the Official Nutrition and Pharmacy Partner of UK Athletics.
“We are privileged to represent the University of Kentucky and extremely proud to work closely with Kroger to develop a partnership that will have a profound impact for both organizations,” JMI Sports Chief Executive Officer Erik Judson said. “The mission for all parties was to develop a comprehensive relationship that extends across campus and demonstrates a collective commitment to the children and communities of the Commonwealth.”
UK’s multimedia rights agreement with JMI Sports – signed in June 2014 – grants naming rights to athletic facilities and expanded opportunities to market campus media rights like those included in this partnership with Kroger. The multimedia rights agreement pays UK Athletics $210 million over 15 years, including a signing bonus of $29.4 million built in to help fund important capital projects like the baseball stadium currently under construction.
A cornerstone of the agreement is the naming rights to UK’s football stadium, which has been named Commonwealth Stadium since its original construction in 1973. The venue underwent a major renovation before its grand reopening in 2015 and will now be named Kroger Field.
In order to avoid any confusion and in consultation with the Newton family, the football playing field will be renamed to C.M. Newton Grounds at Kroger Field. The playing field was named C.M. Newton Field in honor of the former UK athletics director in 2000.
“My family and I are thankful to President Capilouto, Mitch Barnhart and everyone at UK for including us in the decision to rename the playing field,” C.M. Newton said. “We are proud of the time we spent at UK and excited for years of Kentucky football to come on C.M. Newton Grounds at Kroger Field.”
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