The University of Kentucky‘s new ballpark, which is complete and will host its first season next spring, has been named Kentucky Proud Park. The name was approved by the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees on Friday, and is billed as a tribute to farmers and businesses of the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the Big Blue Nation.
“Farmers and their families are deeply woven into the culture and heritage of our state,” Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said. “As the Commonwealth’s flagship university, we are thrilled to honor that through the name of our new baseball stadium and pleased to have a partner in Kentucky Farm Bureau that feels the same way. We look forward to many, many wins in Kentucky Proud Park.”
Kentucky Farm Bureau secured the rights to name the stadium from JMI Sports, UK Athletics’ multimedia rights partner. In turn, Kentucky Farm Bureau elected to name the stadium for Kentucky Proud, the state’s official agricultural marketing program housed at the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. No state taxpayer dollars were used in funding the agreement.
“The Kentucky Department of Agriculture appreciates the opportunity to stamp the Kentucky Proud brand as a fixture in this magnificent new facility,” Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said. “On behalf of our more than 7,000 Kentucky Proud members, I would like to express my gratitude to Kentucky Farm Bureau for sponsoring the Kentucky Proud Park name. This will enable us to raise awareness across Big Blue Nation that Kentucky Proud is the brand for fresh, local products for every Kentucky family.”
The UK Board of Trustees approved the naming at its regularly scheduled board meeting on Friday.
“Agriculture is the backbone of Kentucky’s economy. And it is part of the very foundation of what this university has been part of for more than 150 years. We were, in fact, created to help sustain and strengthen Kentucky’s farm economy,” said UK President Eli Capilouto. “This partnership – among UK Athletics, the Department of Agriculture and the Kentucky Farm Bureau – is a powerful symbol to those ties and our shared commitment to the Commonwealth.”
The Kentucky Proud program is funded through the generosity of the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund. The fund is directed by the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board and administered by the Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy.
“Kentucky Farm Bureau is proud to be a long-time supporter of University of Kentucky Athletics, but today we found a truly unique way to draw our worlds a little closer together,” said Mark Haney, president of Kentucky Farm Bureau. “Naming the university’s brand-new baseball stadium Kentucky Proud Park allows us to highlight our own deep agricultural roots while also sharing the spotlight with so many of our members who grow and raise the products marketed under the Kentucky Proud banner. This partnership is a home run for Kentucky agriculture and a great way to further our support of UK Athletics.”
Construction, which began last year, has been completed on Kentucky Proud Park. The $49 million ballpark is complete with permanent seating for 2,500 as well as stone terraces, grass berms and a 360-degree concourse that will bring its regular-season capacity to approximately 5,000.
“This is an exciting day for our program,” UK baseball head coach Nick Mingione said. “We are incredibly grateful to have the support of Kentucky Farm Bureau, the Department of Agriculture and Kentucky Proud, who are committed to Kentucky and the people of the Commonwealth. We talk about ‘We Are UK’ all the time and that extends beyond our university to the people who make us proud to represent this state. Being able to showcase Kentucky Proud Park is an honor we don’t take lightly.”
The naming of Kentucky Proud Park represents an expansion of Kentucky Farm Bureau’s long-standing partnership with UK Athletics through an agreement with JMI Sports, UK’s multimedia rights partner. The naming rights agreement to Kentucky Proud Park is signed to a term of up to 15 years, running through 2033.
“This new facility is a shining example of the power of partnership. Legislative approval and faith in our capacity made it possible,” said Jennifer Y. Barber, chair of the UK Athletics Committee of the Board of Trustees. “Generous donors helped make it a reality. And the Kentucky Farm Bureau and the Department of Agriculture have helped reinforce through this naming opportunity the importance of Kentucky’s farm families and the agricultural economy to our state and its future.”
UK’s multimedia rights agreement with JMI Sports – signed in June 2014 – grants naming rights to athletic facilities. The multimedia rights agreement pays UK Athletics $210 million over 15 years, including a signing bonus of $29.4 million built in to help fund important capital projects like the construction of Kentucky Proud Park.
Rendering courtesy University of Kentucky.
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