NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) – Say goodbye to Rutgers Stadium. The name, that is.
The birthplace of college football will get $6.5 million over the next 10 years to put a new name on its football home. Rutgers announced Tuesday that its 54,454-seat stadium will be known as High Point Solutions Stadium.
Athletic director Tim Pernetti said the money being paid by the New Jersey-based information technology company will go to the football program so it can stay competitive at the highest level.
“The bottom line is the football program has given us the opportunity to generate these additional dollars,” Pernetti said of the program that has gone to postseason bowl games five of the last six years, with this past season being the exception.
While the university spoke to other companies about the naming rights, Pernetti called this deal the best-case scenario because it united the school with “a New Jersey company run by good people who have the same core values as the state’s university.”
The deal will have options for the final two years, but they have not been finalized, Pernetti said.
Only 10 other colleges in the country who have sold naming rights to their football stadiums, with this being the first deal since Wake Forest and BB&T signed one for an undisclosed amount in 2007, Pernetti said.
The University of Minnesota has the largest naming rights deal. It signed a 25-year agreement with TCF Financial Corp. for $1.4 million annually in 2005.
The first college football game was played at Rutgers in 1869, with the Scarlet Knights beating Princeton 6-4.
The first game in the renamed stadium will be Rutgers’ season opener against North Carolina Central on Sept. 1. Rutgers will play seven games at the stadium this season.
Pernetti acknowledged that some traditionalists are not going to be happy.
“I am sure there are always going to be the people who refuse personally to call it anything other than Rutgers Stadium. That’s OK,” said Pernetti, adding the stadium signs saying “Welcome to Rutgers Stadium” will be changed over the next few months.
Pernetti said he plans to work on deals for other campus structures, specifically mentioning the Rutgers Athletic Center, where the basketball teams play.
“Traditionalists are what is great about college sports, but at the same time the business is evolving,” Pernetti said. “We have all these great pieces of real estate that we haven’t maximized, not only for events but sponsorship opportunities. We’re willing to walk down that path, provided we walk a tight line.”
Formed in 1996 by brothers Mike and Tom Mendiburu, High Point Solutions Inc. of Sparta was created to meet the specific needs of Fortune 500 companies in planning, building and supporting their IT infrastructure.
“Our relationship with Rutgers is similar to that we have with any other business partner and clients,” Mike Mendiburu said. “Whatever we can do to help Rutgers become more successful and independent and help them achieve their goals, that’s what it comes down to.”
Rutgers hired Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment and sports marketing company IMG College to secure a naming rights partner.
Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment is an affiliate of Nets Sports and Entertainment. High Point Solutions is the official IT solutions provider for the New Jersey Nets NBA team and one of the founding sponsors of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where the Nets plan to move in 2012.
Tom Mendiburu said Brett Yormark, the CEO of both Brooklyn Sports and Nets Sports, approached him about the Rutgers’ naming rights in March during a trip to London with the NBA team. The deal was done quickly.
Neither Mendiburu brother attended college and neither had been a Rutgers football fan. They said the new relationship with the university was “totally out of the blue.”
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