Health system's $10M stadium naming rights deal scrutinized

A California health system's $10 million stadium naming rights deal is under scrutiny at the same time its executive compensation is being questioned, the Fresno (Calif.) Bee reported.

Madera, Calif.-based Valley Children's Healthcare entered into the 10-year agreement in 2022 to have its name adorn Fresno State's football stadium. Some Fresno City Council members recently asked the state attorney general to investigate how the health system spends state money, according to the March 24 story.

The council members had also called the pay of Valley Children's CEO "excessive," which the health system later deemed "misinformation." Meanwhile, the Bee reported that the naming rights deal gives hospital officials the use of a suite with up to $1,500 in catering and a prime tailgating spot at Valley Children's Stadium, as well as four seats in a team plane and four "best available" tickets to Bulldogs' away games.

A Valley Children's spokesperson disputed categorizing the agreement as a "naming rights deal."

"While our sign on the stadium is certainly the most visible part of the partnership, it is not the most impactful," the spokesperson emailed Becker's. "The main tenet of this agreement with Fresno State is to help address one of the most significant challenges hospitals face, especially in regions like central California: attracting and keeping top-quality staff at every level."

The partnership also includes a nursing education collaboration and paid healthcare internships, as well as game-day experiences for patients and families and a communitywide pediatric health campaign, the spokesperson said.

Valley Children's President and CEO Todd Suntrapak told GV Wire in 2022 that the naming rights deal would help the health system attract hard-to-find pediatric specialists from across the country.

"If we had to try and secure the number of mentions that we will receive and as the stadium is named and those broadcasts occur, if we had to try and secure that number of mentions just by buying it on the spot market to try and enhance our national brand recognition, we would easily outstrip the investment that we're making in Fresno State," he told the news outlet.

The health system devotes $1 million of its roughly $4 million to $5 million annual marketing budget to the stadium naming rights, according to GV Wire.

The money is split between Fresno State's athletic and nursing departments, though the Bee reported that the value of the deal for the university is lessened by Valley Children's having exclusivity for healthcare sponsorships at the school's athletic facilities.

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