Public Service Credit Union’s new partnership with Colorado State University is a wake-up call for venue naming rights buyers and sellers: companies want more than just reach and impressions.

PSCU, which last month announced a $37.7 million naming rights deal with CSU and Sonny Lubick Field, receives campus-wide benefits as part of the 15-year agreement.

Benefits include the right to open branches and install ATMs on CSU campuses, the right to market cobranded products (debit cards, checking accounts, etc.) to students, staff, faculty and alumni, and the opportunity to offer financial literacy classes to students.

Todd Marksberry, PSCU president and CEO, describes the campus-wide benefits as the linchpin of the deal. The executive has turned down numerous naming rights opportunities during his 25 years in the industry due to their inability to drive return on investment.

“In every single instance it was throwing a name on the side of a stadium, period. To which I ask, what else do I get?”

The timing of the outreach was significant. PSCU will use the naming rights to promote next month’s corporate rebrand.

“We let them know right away that we were changing our name,” said Marksberry, noting that the credit union did not share its new moniker with the school until signing an agreement in principle.

The deal took just five weeks to put together, said Solly Fulp, executive vice president with Learfield’s Campus+ business unit, which brokered the deal.

“Deals can take a long time to put together if you let them get complicated. We applied our value proposition, met with decision-makers, and quickly understood who was and wasn’t serious.”

The partnership builds on an existing relationship between the school and credit union. Sonny Lubick, a retired CSU football coach whose name is attached to the school’s football field, serves as PSCU’s vice president of community outreach. Lubick will be included in the stadium’s new name.

“It’s hard to discount the impact Sonny had. He helped them understand the richness of a relationship,” said Joe Parker, CSU director of athletics.

The CSU partnership is not PSCU’s first foray into college sports. The credit union also sponsors the Rocky Mountain Showdown, an annual football rivalry between Colorado State University and the University of Colorado.

PSCU was planning on using the August 31 game to unveil its new name but sped up its plans after securing the naming rights deal.

“Our plans accelerated a bit.”

While PSCU is working with CSU to determine how the partnership will be executed (number and location of branches, student and alumni marketing campaigns, etc.), it has already heard positive feedback.

“A day after the press conference some people walked into a Fort Collins branch and said ‘I heard about the partnership. I want to open an account.’ People have a deep passion and affinity for their university.”

PSCU currently operates 28 branches across Colorado’s Front Range and has roughly 232,000 members.

The partnership affords status as the official credit union of Colorado State University and CSU athletics. The designation for CSU athletics will expand to the broader financial services category following the expiration of First National Bank’s partnership in 2019, said Fulp.

The partnership does not include the school’s banking business, he said. “There are no business commitments written into the agreement.”

PSCU is not the first company CSU has worked with on a campus-wide deal. The school previously worked with Nelligan Sports Marketing (acquired by Learfield in 2014) to secure a partnership in the office supply category.

Other Campus+ clients include Purdue University, North Carolina State, Texas A&M, University of Louisville and the University of Missouri.

Stacking Up The Competition: Recent Naming Rights Deals

Sponsor School Fee
United Airlines University of Southern California $69M
Alaska Airlines University of Washington $41M
Public Service Credit Union Colorado State University $37.7M

Source: Learfield