Football fans and L.A. residents are about to get to know the name SoFi if they don’t already.
The fintech startup has bought the naming rights to the future home of the Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers, which it will dub SoFi Stadium, the company said Sunday. It declined to share the financial terms of the 20-year agreement, but earlier reports cited a $400 million figure.
If true, that would make this one of the largest ever big-league naming rights deals alongside Citi Field ($400 million over 22 years), MetLife Stadium ($425 million to $625 million over 26 years), Scotiabank Arena ($639 million over 21 years) and Chase Center ($300 million to $400 million over 24 years), according to Sports Business Journal. As part of the agreement, SoFi will be the official partner of the Rams and the Chargers as well as a partner of the performance venue and surrounding entertainment district.
While $20 million a year may be a drop in the bucket for a multi-trillion dollar national bank, SoFi is far less established than the corporations that typically pay for such naming rights deals. The San Francisco-based company raised $500 million earlier this year in a round led by the Qatari sovereign wealth fund and has not yet reached profitability. It currently has 800,000 users.
But the ROI is a no-brainer: it’s going to help the fintech unicorn, currently valued at more than $4.8 billion, grow its brand awareness and recognition; acquire more members; and sell more products and services. The stadium is scheduled to open next year and will host Super Bowl LVI in 2022 and the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2028 Olympics. Popularity in consumer fintech has risen significantly in the last five years, but users tend to be concentrated in the Bay Area and New York City metro area. This deal could help make SoFi a household name on a national level.
The fintech startup MoneyLion similarly has a multi-year, multi-unit partnership with the International Speedway Corporation which includes a sponsorship at the at Talladega Superspeedway and several other tracks. Terms of that agreement have not been disclosed. MoneyLion, like SoFi, offers a financial membership that includes saving, spending, investing and lending services.
SoFi Stadium will include a 27,000 square foot, VIP “activation space” for special events, that will include a lounge exclusively for SoFi members – one of the many things it plans to include as part of its social offerings. Anthony Noto, the CEO at SoFi who was also previously CFO of the National Football League, told Cheddar in April that in addition to building out its suite of financial products this year – it launched four SoFi-branded ETFs earlier and plans to open cryptocurrency trading this month – SoFi (short for Social Finance) is also focused on expanding the social aspect of its membership. In addition to traditional financial services like saving, lending and investing products, SoFi offers things like free career advice, certified financial planning, and member events.
Bank sponsorships of professional sports stadiums may not be anything new, but by including exclusive members’ areas and opportunities, SoFi is borrowing a page from Chase’s Sapphire brand strategy. Users have access to “special experiences” like sports and entertainment hospitality lounges, plus early ticket sales and special seating options for sports and entertainment events. Perks like these didn’t just help to make the Sapphire Reserve and Preferred credit cards successful – it helped the bank shape its image as a lifestyle brand (so much so that it tried to replicate Sapphire’s success in its banking business).
Chase borrows from SoFi too. In June it began pushing IRL events by hosting after-hours community gatherings and discussions that it dubbed "Chase Chats” which focus on financial-health topics that can range from retirement planning to entrepreneurship.
SoFi launched in 2011 as a student loan provider but has aggressively built its suite of products in the last year to include a hybrid save-and-spend account, as well as a growing number of investment options and life insurance through a partnership with Ladder.