Much like Rick Vaughn after the fictional Indians won the pennant in Major League, Caleb Porter's Zips are going commercial.
Akron's soccer stadium, once named Lee Jackson Field, will now go by the name FirstEnergy Stadium. Even the pitch of the national champions will have a new moniker: Cub Cadet Field.
This post may seem like I'm whining about the naming rights being sold, but in reality, it's probably overdue. The press release is below.
AKRON, Ohio – Continuing its more than 50-year philanthropic relationship with The University of Akron, FirstEnergy Corporation has made its latest commitment to the institution, which includes the naming of the University’s men’s and women’s soccer stadium. The venue, previously titled Lee R. Jackson Field and most recently Cub Cadet Field, will now be named FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field. The University’s Board of Trustees approved the new name in its public meeting on Wednesday.
In addition to gaining the naming rights, FirstEnergy’s most recent gift was the catalyst for a construction project that will add more than 300 more bleacher-backed seats, permanent restrooms and a concession stand to the soccer facility. Construction is set to begin later this month.
“FirstEnergy, in addition to being a valued community, research and educational partner for many years, has been a generous benefactor to The University of Akron since 1956,” Dr. Luis M. Proenza, president of UA, said. “This gift is a great testament not only to both of our outstanding soccer teams, but also to the entire athletics program and its lasting, positive impact on the lives of our student-athletes. Our coaches and staff are dedicated to the success of their students, not just on the playing field, but in the classroom and in life. FirstEnergy’s generosity is an outstanding example of great corporate citizenship, and we're very grateful for this gift.”
Since 1956, FirstEnergy has contributed more than $7.3 million to a variety of areas and disciplines at the University, including more than $40,000 in matching their employees’ gifts to the institution.
“We’re proud to support The University of Akron’s effort to create a premier facility for its world-class soccer program,” FirstEnergy President and CEO Tony Alexander said. “Our partnership is based on the long-standing ties between FirstEnergy and The University of Akron. In fact, 540 of our employees are graduates of the University. We look forward to the future success of the University’s soccer team as they play in a facility befitting a national champion.”
The Zips men’s soccer team captured the school’s first team national championship in any sport in December 2010, when it defeated Louisville 1-0 in the NCAA title match in Santa Barbara, Calif. With more than 40,000 fans flocking to its home pitch a year ago, the Zips finished second in the nation in average attendance at 3,213. UA was one of just four schools in Division I (UC Santa Barbara, Connecticut and Cal Poly were the others) to average more than 3,000 fans per game.
In March, the University announced a partnership with Cub Cadet, the premier brand of Cleveland-based MTD Products, which renamed the Zips' new, state-of-the-art grass soccer field Cub Cadet Field.
The soccer field and complex underwent a complete and remarkable transformation during the spring and summer of 2010 to effectively establish it as a premier example of a model natural grass playing field. Renovations were significant and included installing a new field base, drainage and irrigation system, special natural grass surface, grandstands, stadium seating, and an advanced lighting system to accommodate requirements for national media and television coverage.