SECU, the Linthicum-based credit union, will pay $4.75 million over the next 10 years to have Towson University's new basketball facility called SECU Arena.
The financial institution will hold a news conference at the university today to announce the deal, which will pay $475,000 annually and includes the use of one of the building's two large corporate suites and access to multipurpose rooms in the $70 million, 5,200-seat arena.
Carmen David Mirabile, SECU's assistant vice president of marketing, said the credit union has focused much of its marketing spending in recent years on creating partnerships throughout the University System of Maryland. It had not considered splurging on a naming rights deal until Team Services, a Rockville-based company hired by Towson to sell the arena sponsorship, floated the idea last fall.
"For us, it made a lot of sense because it aligns us with college students, and one of our core areas of focus has been on financial education," Mirabile said. "If we can be a strong presence at Towson, then students are going to feel comfortable with us and turn to us at every stage of life."
Towson, with 22,000 students, is the second-largest university in the state system.
SECU is the largest state-chartered credit union in Maryland, with $2.6 billion in assets and 22 branches.
Darin David, a senior director of The Marketing Arm's sports group, said naming-rights deals have evolved in recent years to go beyond building brand awareness.
"The value isn't necessarily in putting a sign on a building anymore," he said. "It's more about the underlying marketing piece. That's where the benefit really comes in."
SECU's deal gives it a strong presence during orientation, allowing company representatives to address students and parents, Mirabile said. The credit union will also set up permanent information centers at the arena and the West Village Commons building that serves as a hub for students. Students can get questions answered there and sign up for accounts, Mirabile said. SECU will increase the number of ATMs on campus from one to at least three, he said.
The credit union will have signage throughout the arena, including on the court, and will use its corporate suite to woo potential customers as well as reward employees, Mirabile said.
Money from the naming-rights deal will be used to pay for projects at the arena not covered by the original bonds issued to finance the facility, said Josianne Pennington, Towson's vice president for marketing and communications. About $1 million worth of work — mainly on the sound system and scoreboards — remains, she said.
Income from the naming-rights deal will help service the debt on the building but may be made available for athletics and student services, Pennington said.
Towson becomes only the second member of the Colonial Athletic Association to sell naming rights to its arena. The College of Charleston sold the naming rights to its 5,100-seat arena, which opened in 2008, to TD Bank for just over $1 million over 10 years. The bank also made a $1 million charitable donation to the school's foundation.
Other schools in the CAA play in arenas named for prominent donors; William and Mary's Kaplan Arena is named for a family who pledged $7 million for men's basketball.
The University of Maryland, meanwhile, receives $1 million per year from Comcast Corp. for the naming rights to both its arena and basketball floor. That 25-year-deal does not end until 2026.