Change, whether it’s inherently good or bad, is always met with some resistance.
Since the University of Kentucky announced the comprehensive partnership with Kroger worth $22.2 million over the next 12 years, you’ve heard approximately 8,533 jokes about the “C.M. Newton Grounds at Kroger Field,” the new name for the old Commonwealth Stadium.
After 44 years as Commonwealth Stadium, finding a suitable name for fans while selling naming rights to the Kentucky football stadium is impossible. You can’t please everybody. However, the name change could have been much more palatable if it was done two years ago.
In November of 2013, UK Athletics announced a $110 million renovation of Commonwealth Stadium to be completed before the 2015 season. Seven months later, JMI Sports paid $210-million to be Kentucky’s multimedia partner through 2029. UK received $29.2 million in the first two years, giving JMI rights to radio broadcasts, stadium and corporate signage rights and stadium naming rights. The Kroger naming rights do not even recoup JMI’s signing bonus cost.
It took JMI just under three years to sell the most lucrative stadium naming rights available. To make the transition easier, they should have done it before September of 2015. Instead of “The New Commonwealth Stadium opens with a Boom!” it should have been “Kroger Field opens with a Boom!”
Packaging together a renovated stadium with a new name just makes the most sense. Instead, we embraced the #NewCWS, only to have the name changed on the same place the team played for the last two years.
Even though Kroger Field comes two years later than it should have, looking back is counterproductive. Looking forward, I can’t wait to go Krogering on Saturdays this fall.
“Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” – John Fitzgerald Kennedy