Social game dev Kabam pays $18 million to re-name field at California stadium

Playing area at Memorial Stadium will be known as "Kabam Field" for the next 15 years as part of first of its kind deal for the university.

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Image Credit: Brant Ward/The Chronicle
Image Credit: Brant Ward/The Chronicle

California University announced today that Kabam, the social game developer behind a pair of The Hobbit games, has won the naming rights to the field at the school's Memorial Stadium. Beginning in 2014, the field itself will be known as "Kabam Field" thanks to a 15-year, $18-million deal Kabam and the University agreed to this week.

As part of the arrangement, reported by The New York Times, Kabam's name will be featured on the two 25-year lines, as well as the 50-yard mid-field line. The deal is described as the first of its kind for the university and perhaps the first time a gaming company has paid to put its name on a college field.

Kabam will also establish a scholarship program as part of the deal, and provide donations to Cal's library system, as well as internships, executive exchanges, an "innovation lab," and an interactive gaming space at the stadium itself.

CEO and cofounder of Kabam, Kevin Chou, graduated from Cal, as did two other cofounders. Kabam hired sports advisory firm Premiere Partnerships to broker the deal to obtain the naming rights.

It's not the first time, of course, a company has won naming rights for an athletic field or stadium. In the college space, Wake Forest's BB&T Stadium is named after the local bank, while heating and air conditioning company Carrier has its name on Syracuse's Carrier Dome.

In professional sports, Major League Baseball's Tampa Bay Rays play at Tropicana Field, named after the popular juice company. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Giants' home field is AT&T Park.

Cal's football season ended in November after the team posted a woeful 1-11 record. However, perhaps more relevant to the Kabam deal, nearly all of its games were televised.

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