The whispers of renaming Martin Stadium after a corporate sponsor have been around for years, including a deal that reportedly fell through just a couple of years ago. Though we found out today the name of the physical stadium will not be changing, the playing surface for the Washington State Cougars will be getting one for the first time: Gesa Field at Martin Stadium, named after a Richland based credit union.
Athletics director Pat Chun announced the deal during Friday’s Board of Regents meeting with the change quickly approved unanimously by the board. The deal is for 10 years and at least $11 million total, with the money going towards general operations of the athletic department.
“Today begins a historic partnership between Gesa Credit Union and Washington State University,” said WSU Director of Athletics Pat Chun via news release. “This partnership unites two organizations with a shared vision of educating and impacting communities throughout the state of Washington and Pacific Northwest. In addition, this partnership will impact our goal of providing a first-class experience for our student-athletes. We welcome Gesa Credit Union as the newest members of the WSU Family and look forward to great victories, memories and moments for WSU Football taking place on Gesa Field.”
The deal also includes two branches of Gesa Credit Union on campus to be run by WSU students. There are also additional benchmarks and opportunities for additional dollars in the future; the deal “will escalate as additional Gesa consumer-based incentives are reached,” according to WSU. The deal officially goes into effect on July 1st, the first day of WSU’s new fiscal year and will be in place for the first home game this fall, against Utah State on September 4.
Additionally, special WSU-branded debit and credit cards will be offered in which a donation will be made to the Cougar Athletic Fund each time those cards are swiped. The cards are available right now and can be instantly printed at Gesa branches.
To say the least, this is an incredible achievement by the athletic department during a time of financial constraint for so many companies. It’s also a badly needed injection of cash to the poorest Power Five athletic department in the country. Like most other institutions, the school furloughed a number of employees due to COVID-19 budget problems so hearing about an annual, million dollar plus injection of cash is a big, big deal.
This is another feather in the cap of Chun, who has been a fundraising revelation since stepping foot on campus following the departure of Bill Moos. It also sets a benchmark for any potential deal for Martin Stadium itself or even Beasley Coliseum with a deal for either of those surely worth at least double the annual value of what Gesa will be paying.
“Washington State University was established 130 years ago to serve the citizens of our state,” said Kirk Schulz, President of Washington State University, via news release. “That commitment to improving the lives of Washingtonians is in our DNA. For that reason, we are thrilled to partner with Gesa Credit Union, an organization that shares our pledge to community service.”
Said Don Miller, President and CEO of Gesa Credit Union: “This is an exciting day for our team members and nearly 260,000 members throughout Washington state. WSU’s mission to advance, extend and apply knowledge aligns with our mission and long tradition of supporting educational causes. Partnering with WSU Athletics provides Gesa with elevated name recognition to expand our reach and strengthen membership, and supports education, students, and alumni by positively impacting our communities through financial education and awareness, all while continuing to return value to our members.”