Why 8 Credit Unions Bought Arena Naming Rights
Credit unions are always searching for ways to reach new prospective members, particularly those who are coming of age: the 94 million Americans in Generations Y and Z.
Considering all of the dizzying options young consumers have at their fingertips to access information about where to get their next loan, marketing to these up-and-comers has become more challenging than ever.
But some credit unions have figured out one of best ways to get in front of young prospective members is to simply go where they go for fun and excitement — arenas.
Read how eight credit unions have invested in the naming rights at university, college or community-owned arenas to convince a new generation to join the movement.
Read more: CFE Arena
Market research confirmed that investing in the naming rights of the arena at the University of Central Florida was an opportunity the $1.4 billion CFE Federal Credit Union in Lake Mary, Fla, just couldn’t refuse.
The arena attracts more than 400,000 people annually from across the central Florida community, and it also links CFEFCU to 60,000 UCF students, one of the largest student populations in the nation.
In addition to operating two other branches on campus, the cooperative also opened a new branch in the arena that members can access from inside and outside the venue.
“This branch is unique because it was designed specifically with college students in mind. We eliminated a typical teller line with protective glass and introduced pods that were more open and welcoming,” explained Michael Ferreer, director of marketing for CFEFCU. “The branch also features a complimentary coffee machine and a lounge area with mobile device charging stations for any student looking for a quiet place to study.”
CFEFCU believes the arena branch and its other on-campus branches have attracted and retained members.
“Through the end of October, these branches acquired 629 new households, resulting in more than $1.5 million in deposits and $1.6 million in loans,” Ferreer said. “Additionally, we are tracking an annual retention rate of over 87% at these locations, an important measurement for our efforts in targeting young members for lifelong relationships.”
Read more: SEFCU Arena
People flock to arenas to have fun as they cheer their home teams to win.
After the $2.6 billion State Employees Federal Credit Union invested in the naming rights of the University of Albany’s arena, the Albany, N.Y.-based cooperative came up with an idea for fans to have even more fun.
During halftime at UA’s basketball games, the SEFCU Money Machine rolls out and a lucky student or two is invited to grab as much cash – up to $1,000 – as they can in 60 seconds.
“You can imagine how popular it is,” said John T. DeCelle, chief marketing officer for SEFCU. “We have also incorporated a community aspect. Each time the Money Machine is used at a home game, we donate $1,000 to an area non-profit. Partnering with athletics is a great way to help build school spirit and to highlight the fun and community tenets of our philosophy.”
More than 220,000 people come to SEFCU annually to watch UB men’s and women’s basketball games and other events.
“The naming rights have most definitely had a positive ROI for the credit union,” DeCelle said. “We have increased the number of student members, as well as faculty and staff. In addition, our relationship has helped to further cement our brand as one committed to the local community.”
Read more: SECU Arena
For the $2.6 billion State Employees Credit Union of Maryland, investing in the naming rights of Towson University’s arena to reach 21,000 students, 125,000 alumni and 3,500 faculty and staff, as well as the community at large, would be too expensive to achieve through traditional marketing channels.
“The partnership with Towson University provides tremendous visibility for SECU in ways that were previously unimaginable and, frankly, unaffordable,” said Carmen David Mirabile, SECU’s assistant vice president of marketing. “The partnership provides an unprecedented opportunity to build awareness at SECU through promotion of SECU Arena events, on television, radio, print, online and through roadway and onsite signs. With every event taking place and promoted at SECU arena, we build awareness and attention to our great organization.”
The naming rights agreement also allowed the cooperative to open an SECU Welcome Center and an SECU Information Center on Towson’s main campus, and install additional ATMs throughout the university.
“As an organization, our commitment to our members is to ensure that we provide them with the best banking products and services,” said Mirabile. “We can only continue to do that by attracting new members. This partnership significantly enhances our visibility, greatly improving the opportunity to do exactly that. More than 76% of students who graduate Towson University remain in Maryland as they join the work force. As a financial organization that exists solely to serve residents of Maryland, who better a financial partner for them than SECU?”
Read more: APG Federal Credit Union Arena
APG Federal Credit Union Arena
Bel Air, Md.
When the $966 million APG Federal Credit Union in Edgewood, Md., learned that Harford Community College was building a new arena that would be the largest indoor venue in northeastern Maryland, the cooperative knew a naming rights deal would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“The naming rights opportunity had the potential for tremendous positive exposure and awareness for the credit union,” said Sharon H. Sykes, senior vice president for member services at APGFCU. “As sponsor of the arena, APGFCU would have its name and logo on the interior and exterior signage, the arena floor, pillars and scoreboard and the HCC website plus recognition on all arena advertising, tickets, posters, basketball and volleyball schedules, even programs, playbills and in-game radio and media mentions.”
So in February 2012, APGFCU announced a naming rights agreement with HCC.
“Despite the fact that APGFCU received a community charter in 2003 … many individuals still believe that they have to work for the Aberdeen Proving Ground (U.S. Army facility) or be a member of the military to join,” she said. “When the announcement was made that APGFCU invested in the naming rights to the arena, the comments were overwhelmingly positive. Both members and non-members recognized the impact that the arena would have on the community and thanked the credit union for its contribution.”
While a 2010 research survey among residents in APGFCU’s market area showed the credit union had strong name recognition, a follow up survey in 2013 found that a year after the arena opened, the cooperative’s name recognition increased substantially.
Read more: UCCU Center
Surrounded by the snow-capped Rocky Mountains on the Utah Valley University campus in Orem, the Utah Community Credit Union Center serves as the region’s epicenter of cultural, athletic and business events.
When the $881 million UCCU in Provo agreed to a naming rights agreement with UVU’s 8,500-seat arena, the credit union’s President/CEO Jeffrey L. Sermon said it was a “perfect partnership” because the cooperative was founded to serve Brigham Young University students.
“Our members go to school here, so serving UVU is one way of serving our members,” Sermon told The Salt Lake Tribune. He also told the local newspaper that UVU graduates stay in the area, and with BYU admitting fewer local students, UVU has assumed a bigger role in providing higher education.
UCCU sponsors an annual two-day family festival and conference at the venue that drew more than 20,000 last year.
The event features a variety of entertaining events and seminars on managing finances for children as well as two dozen sessions on family-oriented topic such as parenting, infertility, teen dating, caring for grandparents, communicating with children, family financial management, adoption, suicide prevention, video game addiction, and the legal issues of aging.
Last year’s family festival featured Ed Smart, the father of kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart. He is an advocate and lobbyist for legislation to prevent abductions and to rescue missing children.
More than 500,000 people attend about 170 events a year at UCCU Center.
Read more: 1st Community Federal Credit Union Spur Arena
1st Community Federal Credit Union Spur Arena
San Angelo, Texas
In the state of Texas there are three things that are always big: Football, barbecue and rodeo.
After the taxpayers of San Angelo approved a modest sales tax increase to build a rodeo arena, the $206 million 1st Community Federal Credit Union in San Angelo agreed to buy the naming rights to the facility – 1st Community Federal Credit Union Spur Arena – on the county’s fairgrounds, which hosts one of the nation’s largest stock show and rodeo events in the country.
The Stock Show and Rodeo, which draws more than 150,000 spectators, provides the largest economic impact of any event in San Angelo, according to the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo Association.
The arena also hosts other popular events, which provides the credit union with frequent visibility among consumers in its marketplace.
“Almost everyone in town either attends, reads about, hears on the radio or sees on the news what is happening out at the fairgrounds all year around, so our name is constantly mentioned and shown as a venue for many public and private events,” said Vicki Loso, senior vice president for marketing and members services at 1st Community FCU. “This has strengthened our community image.”
All of these events pump more than $30 million back into the local economy, reports the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo Association.
Read more: Northwoods Credit Union Arena
Northwoods Credit Union Arena
An ESPN writer once noted that “to step into the world of hockey in Minnesota is to step into a bit of a Bizarro World” where high school hockey games are often times more popular than any NHL match.
So when board members of the $70 million Northwoods Credit Union in Cloquet, Minn., were approached to sign a naming rights deal for a hockey arena, they unanimously jumped on the opportunity.
“Hockey is such a big part of Cloquet and its history, and there are so many of our members and their children who have played hockey or are still playing, as well as a lot of coaches,” Northwood CU President/CEO Barb Brown told the Pine Journal, a local newspaper.
Indeed, the small town of Cloquet is the proud producer of three NHL players, and two of them played for teams that won the Stanley Cup.
In addition to the credit union’s logos throughout the arena, including the ice rink, employees wear Northwood CU t-shirts when they are operating the concession stand during varsity high school games.
“While there is no easy way to put a monetary return on our investment, we have been able to see a return from community recognition,” Brown said. “We were the ‘paper mill credit union’ for our first 70-some years. We’ve since expanded to include those who live, work, worship, attend school or volunteer in Carlton or Pine counties. Getting the word out has definitely proven difficult. However, once we took over the naming rights to the arena, we really started seeing some community recognition.”
Read more: DCU Center
In 2004, the $5.1 billion Digital Credit Union in Marlborough, Mass., got the green light from the NCUA to serve the city of Worcester, and the cooperative needed to step up its marking efforts to make consumers aware of the credit union’s presence.
After much research and evaluation, DCU decided to purchase the naming rights of the city-owned Worcester Centrum Centre where more than 1 million people gather for concerts, conventions and sports events, such as NCAA March Madness tournaments, a minor league hockey team, the Worcester Sharks, and professional bull riding.
In addition to the indoor and outdoor DCU signs, the credit union operates ATMs throughout the center and a marketing kiosk with literature and computer access for members. DCU also has sponsored family entertainment and sports events such as the Boston Pops Orchestra Holiday concert, the Harlem Globetrotters and national gymnastic competitions.
“For the first few years of the agreement, we calculated the value of the naming rights benefits and the exposure on an annual basis,” said Tim Garner, senior vice president of marketing and strategy at DCU. “This includes the value of our name and logo being included in all advertising for events at the facility. It has always exceeded each year’s share of the total naming rights costs.”
The DCU Center recently underwent a $23 million renovation and expansion project that included exterior and interior improvements such as a redesigned box office, four new event suites, retail spaces along an expanded concourse and revamped restrooms as well as upgrades to the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems.