The stadium at the Los Angeles Stadium and Entertainment District, shown under construction earlier this month, will be home to the NFL’s Rams and Chargers when it opens in 2020.  (Getty Images)

Price around $20 million a year on par with MetLife Stadium deal

Social Finance, the private lender known as SoFi that specializes in refinancing student loans, has acquired naming rights for the $5.2 billion NFL stadium under construction in Inglewood, Calif., according to multiple sources.

Terms are believed to be in the range of $20 million a year over 20 years, sources said.

Officials with the Los Angeles Stadium and Entertainment District, as well as SoFi CEO Anthony Noto, a former NFL executive, would not confirm the information. Sources said the deal was signed two weeks ago. It is not known what the exact name of the stadium will be.

Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke controls the 300-acre development, which includes the 72,000-seat stadium and a massive mixed-use component. The Rams will share the stadium with the Los Angeles Chargers when it opens in 2020.

Wasserman, the Los Angeles agency representing SoFi in college sports sponsorships, consulted on the agreement, sources said. Zack Sugarman, senior vice president of properties at Wasserman, did not return a phone call for comment. The district used Legends to broker naming rights. 

The price is lower than the $35 million to $40 million a year that sources say the district proposed when it initially went to market with the naming rights.

Regardless, a comprehensive deal calling for payments of $20 million annually over 20 to 25 years, with multiple escalator clauses attached, remains an impressive figure for NFL naming rights, said consultants that work on these agreements.

The annual value would be on par with the naming-rights agreement for MetLife Stadium in the New York City market, which was signed in 2011 and reported to be $400 million over 20 years. The New Jersey Meadowlands facility is home to the NFL’s Jets and Giants

In Inglewood, there will be plenty of high-profile events apart from Rams and Chargers games. The stadium will play host to the 2022 Super Bowl and the 2023 College Football Playoff title game, plus the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles, when it will share the opening ceremonies with the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Inglewood stadium officials are bidding for the 2027 NCAA Final Four and WWE WrestleMania for the years 2021-25.

In addition, NFL Media’s new West Coast headquarters, the district’s first tenant, will take up a 200,000-square-foot building next to the stadium. The district’s overall development extends to 1 million square feet of retail space, 15 to 20 restaurants, a 15-screen movie theater, a 300-room four-star hotel and 2,000 residential units.

SoFi was founded in 2011 and is valued at $4.5 billion, according to media reports. Eight years ago, the San Francisco-based firm launched as a business refinancing student loan debt. SoFi has since expanded its services to include mortgage loans, personal loans and wealth management.

SoFi has gone through a rough patch over the past two years. Mike Cagney, SoFi’s co-founder and former CEO, stepped down from his position in September 2017 after company employees claimed they had been sexually harassed by managers. In November, SoFi cut 7 percent of its workforce, amounting to 100 employees, as part of restructuring its mortgage loan division, Bloomberg reported.

More recently, SoFi’s chief marketing officer, Joanne Bradford, has left the company, in part, sources said, because of a disagreement over whether the Inglewood naming-rights deal was a good fit for the brand considering the investment. Bradford had been with SoFi since July 2015. Bradford did not respond to a request for comment sent through social media.

Noto took over as SoFi CEO in January 2018 after spending more than three years at Twitter as chief operating officer and chief financial officer. Noto served as the NFL’s CFO from February 2008 to October 2010. He spent 13 years with investment bank Goldman Sachs.

SoFi already has a presence in sports marketing. Last year, the company signed a multiyear deal to be presenting sponsor of the Big Ten Conference men’s basketball tournament. The firm has also sponsored the Pac-12 Conference men’s basketball tournament and the Winter X Games. It’s also a sponsor of the 2019 NBA playoffs.

SoFi is part of the financial technology sector, which more teams are targeting for major sponsorships. The “fintech” category includes Fiserv, which last year signed a 25-year naming rights deal for the new Milwaukee Bucks arena. Fiserv provides credit card processing services for its clients.

Editor’s Note: This story has been revised since it was posted. The stadium will play host to the Super Bowl in 2022.