No, that’s not the sound of Batman pummeling the Riddler with a one-two punch – that’s the name of the new Cal Berkeley Football field. No, really.
The Cal athletic department announced Thursday it has sold Memorial Stadium’s field naming rights to San Francisco-based mobile video game maker Kabam. The stadium keeps its name, but the field’s getting a new moniker.
“The field is going to be Kabam field,” said Cal Athletic Director Sandy Barbour. “We’re going to name it Kabam Field at California Memorial Stadium.”
Kabam, which makes such gaming aps as Kingdom of Camelot and the Hobbit, is plunking down $18 million for naming rights to the field for the next 15 years. Company founder Kevin Chou is a Cal grad, as is about 10 percent of the company’s 700 employees.
“I wouldn’t say I’m the biggest or most die hard fan,” admitted Chou, who says he goes to a couple home games a year. But he says he is a big fan of emblazing the field with his company’s logo.
“Kabam isn’t necessarily the most well-known gaming company in the world, or even the Bay Area,” said Chou, “so this is a fantastic way for us to build that visibility.”
The company and the university were still deciding on a Kabam logo for the field. The company’s previous logo of a time-bomb is out of the running.
Cal said it was already planning to sell the field naming rights, even before the slow death of a plan to sell very expensive long-term seat licenses. Saddled with $447 million dollars in debt for the reconstruction of Memorial Stadium, the university is looking for alternative ways to raise dough.
“The great thing about this is it’s a stable source of revenue,” said Cal Vice-chancellor John Wilton. “It’s not volatile like selling seats which can go up and down.”
The university learned seat sales fluctuate with the Cal football team’s record, which isn’t that good - and the economy, which is getting better.
School officials have hired the company Premier Partnerships to develop alternative funding plans. It's also leasing space in the stadium to other school departments, and adding restaurants.
“I think this facility will be seen in a year or two as the new approach,” said Wilton. “We’re going to make it a 24 – 7 facilities. We’re going to have students here, we’re going to have academic departments here.”
And soon, they will have Kabam here, too. Right there, written on the field in big blazing letters. Kabam!