After nearly three decades of playing in the Coors Events Center, the Colorado basketball and volleyball teams will soon have to get used to a new name for their home arena.
CU’s partnership with the Coors Foundation expired long ago, and the Coors name will soon be removed from the building and advertising materials, possibly as early as this summer.
The athletic department is actively trying to find a new naming rights partner, but by fall, the building is likely to be re-named the CU Events Center.
“The Coors family has been an incredible partner with us for a number of years, but as we look to upgrade that facility and upgrade some of the things that we’re doing, we need somebody that wants to get invested in helping us do that,” CU athletic director Rick George said. “My discussions with Peter Coors and the Coors family and the Coors Foundation, we started those three or four years ago.
“At some point we’ll take the name off because we think it would make it easier for us to sell something that doesn’t have a name on it.”
After 28 years, it may take a while for fans to get used to a new name, but associate athletic director Lance Carl said, “It’s about us marketing it, messaging it and getting it out to our constituents and our fans and our alums and they’ll get it.”
“The Keg,” as it has been affectionately called by fans, was built in 1979, originally as the CU Events/Conference Center.
It was renamed the Coors Events Center after the Coors Foundation gave CU a $5 million gift in September 1990. That donation was given to complete the building of the Dal Ward Center, with Coors getting naming rights to the events center indefinitely.
Although the Coors name won’t be on the building much longer, it will be honored, George said.
“We will make sure that there’s history in there that shows their support and how they supported us and all of that background, because it’s a part of our history and tradition,” he said. “We won’t forget that.”
Meanwhile, the athletic department continues to search for naming rights deals for the events center and Folsom Field. George said CU has been actively in the market for naming rights partners for the past couple of years, but it’s a challenge to get deals completed.
“It’s been a long process,” Carl said. “We’ve had some people come close to the finish line and we just weren’t able to finish those.”
CU is working with Impression Sports & Entertainment, a Denver-based firm that recently helped Southern California land a 16-year, $69 million deal with United Airlines for naming rights to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
“We’re just trying to match the right company to the CU athletic department,” Carl said. “It has to be the right fit, aligning our values with their core values, as well. It just takes a long time for things to come to fruition.
“There could be one company that wants to put their name on the CU Events Center and Folsom. It could be a company that wants to do one or the other. It really depends on the company and what their needs are and what their interest is long term.”
Although the process is challenging, George believes Folsom Field and the events center are both attractive venues for sponsors.
“You’ve got to find the right partner that fits and wants to use CU athletics as a way to get them some exposure,” he said. “Our games in the football stadium and basketball arena, most of them are national, so there’s great exposure for a company.”
Ideally, CU would like to secure a naming rights agreement of at least 10 years.
“What you don’t want to do is get into a five-year deal and you’re going back to the table after five years,” Carl said.