The University at Albany men’s football team will kick off its season tonight at 7, but no one knows quite yet what to call the school’s new stadium.
That’s because a request for proposal that went out earlier this summer solicited a number of bids for the corporate naming rights, and the university rejected them all. It’s now in the process of putting together a flashier contract for the naming rights.
“We’re going to expand it,” Vice President for Athletic Administration and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Lee McElroy said Friday. “We wanted to increase the value of the package.”
The initial request that went out in mid-July asked for bids between $3 million and $5 million for the naming rights to the new football stadium and adjoining soccer field. The expanded request will go out in October and ask for bids between
$4 million and $6 million, with additional naming rights for the track acility, which is now on the site of the old football stadium.
The actual field in the football stadium has been named after head football coach Bob Ford, who will retire at the end of this season after 44 years at UAlbany.
The Athletic Department announced Friday it will name the natural grass berm beyond the north end zone after First Niagara Financial Group. The berm — a general admission area that accommodates 2,000 fans — is a casual spot for football fans who aren’t fond of bleachers and want to sit with a blanket and watch the game. For $125,000, it will now be known as the First Niagara Family Berm.
“The partnership with First Niagara will provide the university, First Niagara and the Capital Region with a first-class opportunity to enjoy college athletics in a wonderful venue in support of family entertainment,” McElroy said in a news release. “Business and higher education collaboration enhance the quality of life for students, fans, faculty and alums.”
“The stadium is a great family environment and a great part of our Capital Region community,” First Niagara Eastern New York Market Leader Nina Tyzik said in the release. “The berm is a perfect spot for families to enjoy the action.”
The public will finally get a chance to see the $19 million stadium tonight, when the Great Danes play the University of Rhode Island in UAlbany’s inaugural game as a member of the Colonial Athletic Association.
The stadium holds 8,500 people, includes separate levels of purple and yellow seating, a giant high-definition scoreboard about 50 feet wide and 25 feet high and an elevator that can take fans from the ground floor up to the press box and suites overlooking the 50-yard line. McElroy didn’t get “the keys to the stadium” until Tuesday, he said.
He says there has been both local and national interest expressed in the naming rights.
“Whoever gets them knows the power of using college athletics to advance their brand or products,” he said.