Arizona Cardinals: Could Apollo Group’s downturn affect the team?


Could the downturn of the for-profit educator affect the naming rights for the Cardinals?

Editor’s Note: This is all opinion below, none of it has been mentioned or hinted at by Apollo Group or the Cardinals, but one has to wonder when you read the results.

They say that the money a team is able to bring in from tickets, merchandise and concessions can be seen on the field. Fans in the turn-styles turn into dollars that can be used to build a competitive team. And while those can be dynamic depending on a lot of things, performance, weather, local excitement, the one thing that is constant in most cases is revenue derived from naming rights, in this case, the giant billboard for your company stamped on the facade of a $450 million building.

With recent news of Apollo Group’s downturn and disappointing third quarter earnings results, which combines with several years of diminishing results for the parent company of University of Phoenix, could the name change on the University of Phoenix Stadium where our beloved Red Sea comes to cheer on every Sunday?

Its an interesting question to ponder, for any business, regardless of industry, to be in such a extended downturn, shareholders ultimately have the last laugh in what money get’s spent on, and where marketing lies.

In September 2006 Apollo Group and the Arizona Cardinals signed a 20 year agreement worth $154.4 million dollars taking it to 2026. But, the real question is, with the for-profit school continuing to have lower results year after year, would investors think $7.72 million/year is a worthy expense in the grand scheme of things?

The marketing provided by the stadium, which has hosted two Super Bowls, a BCS championship game, and the Fiesta Bowl is immense, but how far is that marketing going in the long run.

While this is all conjecture at this point in time, its interesting to think about who may step up to the plate locally to take up the mantle and name the stadium should Apollo Group decide to sever ties and end the agreement.

Many would think that the recent adoption of casino sponsorship in the valley may continue with Gila River Arena next door in Glendale and Talking Stick Resort Arena taking over for US Airways (nee America West Arena) in downtown Phoenix.

Typically, you see companies that are based in the market take up the naming rights, not in all cases, but that has been the norm in Phoenix at least, even Bank One Ballpark now Chase Field has been represented by a company with a large presence in the valley.

New companies and new blood have come into the market in the last 10 years, with many long term companies still on the radar. There may not be any change for some time, University of Phoenix, a big sponsor of the team, could continue to spent nearly $8m/year to keep the naming rights, a small sum giving some other recent naming agreements, but its fun to think about other ideal names, should that come to pass.