Naming-rights deal provides boost to Georgia State athletic department

Georgia State Stadium on Saturday, May 2, 2020 in Atlanta. (JASON GETZ/SPECIAL TO THE AJC)

Credit: Jason Getz

Credit: Jason Getz

Georgia State Stadium on Saturday, May 2, 2020 in Atlanta. (JASON GETZ/SPECIAL TO THE AJC)

Georgia State officially got a new name for its football stadium Tuesday, and it was accompanied by a tidy financial windfall.

After approval from the Georgia Board of Regents, the school announced a 15-year deal with Center Parc Credit Union worth $21 million for the stadium’s naming rights. Signs already are going up at newly dubbed Center Parc Stadium and soon will be visible to those who drive – and sit in traffic – on the Downtown Connector. The signage transformation should be finished by the time the Panthers make their scheduled debut Sept. 3 against Murray State. if they play.

“This is a ray of sunshine in an otherwise stormy 2020,” Georgia State athletic director Charlie Cobb said.

Center Parc Credit Union is a division of the Atlanta Postal Credit Union, which began in 1925 and today has more than 100,000 members and $2.1 billion in assets. Center Parc focuses on community involvement – it began a community garden initiative in Savannah – and plans to be an active partner with Georgia State in further development around the stadium. Centre Parc plans to use the Georgia State connection to grow its presence in metro Atlanta.

“Within 15 years, Centre Parc will grow and become a part of the Atlanta landscape,” said Amy Fuller, Center Parc’s chief strategy officer.

Fuller said talks between Georgia State and Center Parc began more than a year ago. The initial conversations between the two parties involved a more modest sum and a shorter time commitment, but that grew over time.

“At first we were talking about a smaller opportunity,” Fuller said. “This happened after we really got to know each other and the leadership of the two organizations came together and talked about the shared opportunity.”

Cobb said, “Finding someone who shares our values was very important. … Our values intertwine and will continue as we work together.”

It certainly helped that Chuck Head, the president and CEO of Center Parc and APCU, had roots in Atlanta.

“I grew up in this area, as did my wife and kids, so I have a strong personal resonance with this iconic sports venue,” Head said. “I’m proud to make Center Parc a part of the memories that will be made for generations to come.”

The additional money from the naming rights will provide more stability to the Georgia State athletics program. This will be the 11th season for football at the school and the move from the Georgia Dome to the Turner Field site has been a big step in the program’s development. The new deal will ensure more potential growth.

“The opportunity to play in the stadium has been tremendous, as we try to grow a football program, as we try to grow an athletic department,” Cobb said. “The partnership with Center Parc will be tremendous in helping us grow. I look forward to utilizing the resources being brought to the table.

“It means stability. That’s what we’re trying to create. We’re trying to build a program. We’ve got a long way to go, but this gives us a great opportunity to reach those goals with someone who shares our values.”

Georgia State will begin its fourth season under coach Shawn Elliott. The Panthers were 7-6 last season and played in a bowl game for the second time in three years.

The stadium was built for the 1996 Olympics and hosted the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as track and field competition. It was downsized and converted into a baseball stadium that housed the Braves from 1997-2017. It was purchased by Georgia State in 2016 and converted into a 25,000-seat football stadium in time for the 2017 season.