Cardinals’ stadium will be called State Farm Stadium under a new 18-year agreement between the Arizona Cardinals and State Farm.
Rob Schumacher, azcentral sports

The Arizona Cardinals will kick off the regular season this weekend in a newly renamed stadium.

University of Phoenix Stadium is now State Farm Stadium, under an 18-year naming rights agreement reached by the Arizona Cardinals Football Club and State Farm. The stadium has been known as University of Phoenix Stadium since shortly after it opened in 2006.

The stadium is home to the Cardinals and college football’s Fiesta Bowl. It will host its third Super Bowl in 2023.

Before then, the Cardinals, Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority, and the city of Glendale will have spent more than $100 million in upgrades in and around the stadium.

The Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority’s board of directors still needs to approve the naming rights agreement. The board will convene soon to do so, said Tom Sadler, president and CEO of the authority.

“We do not anticipate any concerns with AZSTA’s approval,” Sadler said in a statement.

At least one fan was happy about the new moniker, or at least glad to see it change from University of Phoenix Stadium. 

Mum on revenue

The amount the Cardinals will receive under the naming rights deal is confidential, Cardinals President Michael Bidwill said in a press conference Tuesday. 

Under the sponsorship agreement with University of Phoenix, the team received annual payments of about $7.7 million. Bidwill would not say whether the team is making more under the new deal.

University of Phoenix originally agreed to pay $154.5 million over 20 years. The college alerted the Cardinals in April 2017 that it hoped to end the partnership early.

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The stadium was largely paid for through a Maricopa County voter-approved tax on tourists. The Cardinals also contributed funding and were granted the profits from the naming rights under the original contract.

Bidwill praised State Farm, saying it fits in with the Cardinals’ values and priorities.

Both the Cardinals and State Farm have “a focus on community, a focus on doing what’s right and a focus on trying to really benefit the community with what we have,” Bidwill said.

Branding begins

On Tuesday, workers had already begun taking down the signature University of Phoenix sign on the stadium’s exterior. That sign, along with the other vertical marquee sign and the sign on the dome’s roof, will soon say State Farm Stadium.

Much of the re-branding in and around the stadium will be done by the Cardinals’ first regular season home game on Sept. 9 against the Washington Redskins, according to the Cardinals.

State Farm is excited to partner with the Cardinals in a relationship that will bring the State Farm brand to millions of people, said Michael Tipsord, State Farm chairman and chief executive officer.

State Farm thinks of this as more than just a marketing relationship, Tipsord said, and sees philanthropic partnerships in the future, to “lift up this entire community.”

“Tying it back to everything we have already done to invest in the greater Phoenix area,” he said.

State Farm spends heavily on advertising and branding. Last week, the insurance giant announced a sponsorship deal to rename another stadium, the home of the Atlanta Hawks basketball team, as State Farm Arena.


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Other insurance company naming deals

Other insurance companies also have gotten into the naming rights game. 

The Cleveland Indians play at Progressive Field.

Nationwide Arena in Columbus Ohio is home to the Blue Jackets National Hockey League team.

Allstate Arena just outside of Chicago is home to the American Hockey League team the Chicago Wolves.

Even the Puppy Bowl got a naming rights deal with an insurance company. The stadium for Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl was renamed Geico Puppy Bowl Stadium in 2012. 

MORE: NFL predictions for 2018: Playoffs for Arizona Cardinals?

Deal started to come together this spring

The Cardinals have been in talks with State Farm about a potential sponsorship for a while, Bidwill said, and the deal started to come together this spring.

The two companies have a long relationship spanning more than a decade, Bidwill said. When he flew to the State Farm headquarters in Illinois, he said, he realized that the companies share similar core values.

Along with their focus on community, he said, they both have deep Midwestern roots — the Cardinals played in Illinois as the Chicago Cardinals from 1922 to 1960 and then in St. Louis before arriving in Arizona in 1988. 

Not only that, he said, but the aunt of the Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald is a State Farm agent in Minnesota, and Fitzgerald is a policy holder.

State Farm presence grows

State Farm, the nation’s largest auto and home insurer, has operated in Arizona for decades. The company oversees 83 million policies and accounts nationally and 640,000 policies in Arizona.

With more than 7,000 employees across the state, Arizona is one of State Farm’s largest employment centers. Many of its employees in the state work in claims and customer service.

In 2015, State Farm expanded in Tempe. It consolidated many of its customer service, call center and other operations at a sparkling new campus along Tempe Town Lake.

Fans react

Fans reacted to the news on Twitter on Tuesday.

Republic reporter Russ Wiles contributed to this article.

Reach reporter Jen Fifield at [email protected] or 602-444-8763. Follow her on Twitter @JenAFifield.