Friday Night Naming Rights

How Cy-Fair Federal Credit Union’s 10-year naming rights to a high school stadium has paid off after one year.

 
Erik Payne

By Erik Payne

 

CU QUICK FACTS

Cy-Fair FCU
Data as of 03.31.17

HQ: Houston, TX
ASSETS: $228.3M
MEMBERS: 24,803
BRANCHES: 3
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 3.3%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 12.5%
ROA: 0.37%

Cameron Dickey, CEO of Cy-Fair Federal Credit Union ($228.3M, Houston, TX), grew up and attended high school in the Pacific Northwest. To him, a high school football stadium wasn’t much. A few metal bleachers on either side of a field.

But he lives in Texas, now. And things are a little bigger down there.

In 2006, the Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District, from which the credit union takes its name, completed the $83 million Richard E. Berry Educational Support Center. The complex includes a conference center, a 450-seat theater, a 9,500-seat arena, and an 11,000-seat football stadium.

Until 2016, that football stadium was simply called Berry Center Stadium. But in June of that year, the credit union signed a 10-year, $1.5 million naming rights agreement with the school district. Cy-Fair FCU Stadium was born, and the deal took many by surprise.

“People from all over the country were saying, ‘Wait, that’s a high school stadium?’” Dickey says. “It blew their minds.”

A Shoebox In A Desk Drawer

Cy-Fair FCU’s founding is a familiar story in the credit union world. In 1956, 10 employees of the Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District formed the cooperative and held deposits in a shoe box in a desk drawer of the school’s administrative assistant.

Sixty years later, Dickey jumped at the opportunity to secure naming rights and return a tactile benefit to the community.

 

“We structured the agreement so the money paid goes back to the district’s general operating budget,” Dickey says. “School districts are constantly trying to figure out how they can provide programs or afford teachers. That money is worth the starting salaries of three teachers.”

In the credit union’s experience, the one-year cost for a billboard in a well-trafficked area is approximately $75,000. And, billboards don’t provide value to student athletes, the school district, or the community.

“There’s much represented in our brand being associated with the stadium,” Dickey says.

This clearly demonstrates the link between the credit union and the school district, what we’re about, where we came from, and what we support.

Cameron Dickey, CEO, Cy-Fair FCU

A Real Crowd Pleaser

In addition to community benefits, the naming rights also provide institutional value for Cy-Fair.

The credit union holds nearly $230 million in assets. That’s not overly large for a financial institution in Houston — the country’s fourth-largest city. But the Cy-Fair name prominently displayed in one of the largest high school football stadiums in the state, in a complex visited by 1.5 million people every year, solidifies the credit union’s place in the community.

“This clearly demonstrates the link between the credit union and the school district, what we’re about, where we came from, and what we support,” Dickey says.

Starting next season, 12 high school varsity teams will play games in Cy-Fair Stadium, but the complex also hosts other high-traffic events, including proms, conferences, graduations, and even top-secret celebrity training sessions. Prior to her headlining performance at Super Bowl LI, held in Houston, Lady Gaga and her dancers spent a few days in the Center’s arena practicing their routine.

The credit union also hosts its own events in the stadium. Of note, Cy-Fair FCU is working on an event with local Boy Scout troops and the Sugar Land Skeeters, a local Independent League baseball team, to drive traffic to the stadium in the months between football seasons. The credit union will match funds raised from the event, with the overall goal to contribute $10,000 to the Boy Scouts.

“We’re trying to be a catalyst for community involvement,” Dickey says. “If we can create visibility for the credit union and give back to our local Boy Scouts, we will.”

The naming rights has also helped the credit union tap into some cool marketing channels as well as earn social media notoriety.

For example, the credit union developed a Spirit School Debit Card that it brands with the logos of district high schools and donates a percentage of each transaction to booster clubs at each high school. Using the stadium’s video scoreboard to promote the product, the credit union was able to issue 250 of these cards in less than one year.

“We have a platform to bring attention to this product that supports area high schools,” Dickey says. “The attendance at these games is between 7,000-11,000 people, and it’s exactly our target demographic.”

Also, when the viral-sensation Mannequin Challenge was popular, a Cypress Woods High School cheerleader made a video that pans through still-as-statue students cheering on their football team, capturing the big and bright Cy-Fair FCU Stadium logo in the background. The video itself logged more than 1 million likes — and many more views — and was picked up by large media outlets like the Houston Chronicle. An unexpected benefit from the credit union’s investment, but one its more than happy to have.

“To get a million views on our brand is the kind of value you hope for but can’t realistically expect to achieve,” Dickey says.

 

July 3, 2017


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