Aztec Stadium to be called Snapdragon Stadium


San Diego Aztec stadium naming rights Image: San Diego State University

Social media outlets for Aztec Stadium (US) have been teasing a new name for several days and the title found its way into the headlines recently when whispers were in the wind.

‘The San Diego Union-Tribune’ stated that on the morning of December 6th, San Diego State officials made it official. The new facility in the San Diego State University (SDSU) Mission Valley will be called Snapdragon Stadium in a deal the university said is worth $45 million over 15 years.

The 35,000-capacity Aztec Stadium is an under-construction American football stadium in San Diego, California on the campus of the San Diego State University at SDSU Mission Valley, a 166-acre non-contiguous expansion parcel of the university campus. It is all set to open in September 2022.

The San Diego State University is a public research university in San Diego, California (US). Founded in 1897 as San Diego Normal School, it is the third-oldest university and southernmost in the 23-member California State University system. SDSU has a Fall 2020 student body of 35,578 and an alumni base of more than 300,000.

‘The San Diego Union-Tribune’ further stated that Aztec Stadium had been the working title since construction began 15 months ago on the $310 million, 35,000-capacity facility that is scheduled to be ready by September 3rd, 2022, when SDSU opens the season against Arizona.

Said John David Wicker, SDSU’s Director of Athletics, “It’s really a cornerstone of a stadium development project when you can get the naming rights on the building. It’s a major boost for building the stadium. Obviously, financially it’s a key part of that. And we’re excited that it’s such a major local partner in the San Diego community that we’re going to have the opportunity to partner with, not only here but the rest of SDSU Mission Valley.”

Wicker said the deal is among the largest in the nation for a collegiate stadium.

Added Wicker, “We’re one of the top three in the country, so we’re excited about that. It shows that people want to invest in what we’re building because they know it’s going to be a great building and that it’s going to be successful.”

The biggest college football naming rights deals in recent years were for the University of Southern California (USC) (United Airlines, $69 million, 15 years) and the University of Washington (Alaska Airlines, $41 million, 10 years).

In both instances, the sponsor name was attached to the field – United Airlines Field at the 78,467-capacity Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles (US) and Alaska Airlines Field at the 70,083-capacity Husky Stadium in Seattle (US) – rather than the stadium itself. That will not be the case with SDSU, which announced in December 2019 the field will be called Bashor Field after Dianne Bashor of La Jolla made a $15 million donation toward stadium construction.

One of the first questions raised during the announcement: What is Snapdragon?

It is a division of Qualcomm, representing the San Diego company’s premier mobile platform brand.

Qualcomm is an American multinational corporation headquartered in San Diego, California, and incorporated in Delaware. It creates semiconductors, software, and services related to wireless technology. It owns patents critical to the 5G, 4G, CDMA2000, TD-SCDMA and WCDMA mobile communications standards.

The company said, “It represents a family of technology platforms that bring intelligence and connectivity to smartphones, wearables, always-connected PCs, XR headsets, gaming devices, and cars.”

Remarked Qualcomm Chief Marketing Officer Don McGuire, “We worked really closely with the SDSU folks to build into our partnership the ability to build out unique, technical and fan experiences within the stadium, and then around the stadium as well. So, I think fans will be able to look forward to interacting more with the Aztecs via their mobile devices as well as experiencing some things in extended reality. We’re going to be working on some cool stuff.”

According to an SDSU release, the agreement still will require formal approval from the California State University Board of Trustees.

Qualcomm has been associated with the Mission Valley site dating back nearly 25 years. In 1997, then-San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium was renamed Qualcomm Stadium when the local company stepped in with a 20-year, $18 million offer to purchase naming rights. The deal was made to provide the additional financing necessary to bridge a funding gap in the $80 million expansion completed before the 1998 Super Bowl.

So why not name the new stadium Qualcomm Stadium?

McGuire explained, “Because we are interested in building consumer recognition and awareness and affinity for Snapdragon. Qualcomm is really more about enterprise, business-to-business and having people know us through Government regulators and as well as our ecosystem customers, but not necessarily consumers. Snapdragon is our consumer-facing brand, so it made sense to put it on the stadium.”

The name Snapdragon Stadium actually was used during a 10-day period in December 2011, when Qualcomm Stadium was rebranded to bring attention to Snapdragon.

This is the latest in a series of steps indicating the significant revenue that will be generated by and for the new stadium.

In addition to last year’s donation from Bashor, in mid-November SDSU announced the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation (Federally recognized tribe of Mission Indians from Southern California) and Sycuan Casino Resort as the first of perhaps 10 founding partners.

The Sycuan name will be on ‘The Piers’, a three-level entertainment and seating space located at the South end of the stadium, and the Founders Club, which includes four suites on the stadium’s West (home) side.

Wicker said the value of that sponsorship is $8.5 million.

Naming rights typically generate the most significant revenue for a venue.

Rob Yowell, President and Founder of Gemini Sports Group, had estimated that naming rights for Aztec Stadium would be worth $750,000 to $1 million a year. Yowell said the amount could be significantly higher – and the deal announced on December 6th comes out to $3 million a year – if the sponsorship was tied into other areas of the campus.

With an Innovation District planned at the SDSU Mission Valley, as well as the main campus located nearby, Snapdragon fits in a larger sponsorship deal.

The 166-acre SDSU Mission Valley property includes plans for 4,600 residential units, a 400-room hotel, 95,000 square feet of retail space, and 1.6 million square feet of innovation/research areas. There also will be 80 acres of parks and open space.

Enthused Wicker, “We’re excited about having the most technologically advanced stadium. Then it’s going to open up opportunities in the Innovation District, where, hopefully, we can figure out where Qualcomm’s going to come in and partner with us to do what we want to do down there, and just the rest of the areas.”

Making a deal that expanded beyond its new stadium enabled Colorado State to get more for its naming rights to the 41,000-capacity Canvas Stadium in 2018 (one year after the stadium opened).

The Public Service Credit Union, which changed its name to Canvas Credit Union, paid $37.7 million in a 15-year partnership deal that extended beyond naming of the stadium.

The Colorado State University (CSU) also received $20 million from an anonymous donor to name the field in honor of the former head coach, Sonny Lubick.

Until December 6th, Colorado State’s deal was far and away the best among SDSU’s Mountain West peers, including Boise State (Albertsons, 15 years, $12.5 million), Fresno State (Valley Children’s Healthcare, $10 million, 10 years), San Jose State (Citizens Equity First Credit Union, $8 million, 15 years), and Utah State (Maverik, $6.3 million, 18 years).

In August, California announced a 10-year, $17.5 million deal with FTX, a cryptocurrency exchange, to rename its facility FTX Field at Cal Memorial Stadium.

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