Learfield Sports Becomes Athletics Marketing Partner of University of Illinois
By Community | December 14, 2012
The University of Illinois has selected Learfield Sports as the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics (DIA) exclusive athletics marketing partner and multimedia rights holder for the next 10 years.
This move signifies the first time DIA has outsourced its multimedia rights in a comprehensive package. The formal agreement was finalized on Nov. 29 and the partnership is already underway.
“Learfield Sports is a leader in the collegiate space, drugs and a dominant presence in the Big Ten landscape,” said Director of Athletics Mike Thomas Thomas. “The partnership will allow the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics to improve our fiscal standing steadily over the next decade, and allow greater corporate involvement in our programs. This move will continue to make us even more competitive in our pursuit for championships.”
The new partnership will have immediate impact on the DIA. In this current year, DIA will realize a 50 percent increase in net sponsorship value, with significant annual increases each of the following years. The increases are due to a financial guarantee, ticket and hospitality purchases, in-kind support, and direct cost savings. In 2012-13, DIA will realize more than $1 million net increase in value compared to a year ago. Much of this gain can be attributed to Learfield assuming the department’s radio and television production costs.
Over the 10-year time span of the agreement, DIA estimates it will generate more than $60 million from all external sponsorship and multimedia rights activities, including those managed by Learfield Sports. On average, these strategic partnerships will help the department recognize an additional $2 million annually. In addition, DIA has the opportunity to benefit from added revenue sharing should Learfield reach a defined annual sales threshold.
On top of the other revenue, Learfield Sports has committed funding to help defray some expenses associated with the future video board and scoreboard enhancements at Memorial Stadium and the Assembly Hall. These boards will be used to improve the fan experience and offer more inventory for corporate partners in each venue.
For Learfield Sports, Illinois becomes the eighth Big Ten Conference member institution in its collegiate portfolio joining Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Northwestern, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin. Aside from the campus-level rights relationships Learfield Sports has with these schools, the company also manages the sponsorship rights of the Big Ten Conference and develops its corporate partnerships.
Learfield Sports has established “Fighting Illini Sports Properties” in Champaign to directly oversee the majority of Illinois Athletics’ comprehensive rights including signage, sponsorship, corporate hospitality, event marketing, radio production and sales, and television coaches’ shows and official athletic website advertising.
“We appreciate the opportunity to work more closely with the University of Illinois in this new relationship,” said Learfield President and CEO Greg Brown. “Our company has handled the distribution of the Illini Sports Network for years and to have a broader role is terrific. This new partnership is also a wonderful addition to our portfolio of Big Ten schools and further enhances our relationship with the conference.”