Sacramento Republic FC announced Thursday a new naming-rights agreement for its home stadium with national pizza chain Papa Murphy’s.
The team’s 11,500-seat Cal Expo facility will now be called Papa Murphy’s Park. Since its debut in 2014, the stadium had been known as Bonney Field, named for the Sacramento-based plumbing contractor.
While financial terms were not disclosed, Republic FC President Warren Smith said the new agreement is for three years through 2019 – after which the team hopes to graduate to Major League Soccer and move into a new stadium in Sacramento’s downtown railyard.
Naming rights for the team’s current stadium became available when Bonney chose not to continue its association after last season, Smith said. But the team’s new partner also carries a nationally known brand as Republic FC is aspiring to reach MLS status.
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“It made a lot of sense for them, and it makes a lot of sense for us, Smith said. “It’s a brand that people already know – they use it. Obviously, they’re a big advertiser in the market. People are very familiar with them. And for us, it just gives us a nice chance to connect with a brand that is very powerful and that we can make a difference for.”
Sacramento in January submitted its bid to join MLS, which is expected to announce two expansion cities later this year that would begin play in 2020. The Republic FC group, led by investor Kevin Nagle, has a plan in place for a new privately financed stadium in the downtown railyard that would seat about 20,000.
The naming rights deal announced Thursday does not extend to that proposed stadium, though Smith said Papa Murphy’s has expressed “interest in also participating at a higher level,” if the team joins the MLS.
Papa Murphy’s co-op President Greg Wellington in a statement called the agreement an “incredible opportunity to partner with a growing sports enterprise that has huge potential for our brand and fits wonderfully into the greater Sacramento area.”
Along with new signage, Papa Murphy’s Park this season will have new field-level LED boards, making Republic FC the only United Soccer League team to include that feature at its home facility, said Erika Bjork, Republic FC spokeswoman.
Republic FC players will also wear a UC Davis Health System logo on their jerseys this year – the result of a major sponsorship agreement reached last July.
The team’s first game at its newly christened stadium will be a preseason friendly March 22 against the San Jose Earthquakes. Republic FC opens its regular-season schedule March 26 at Seattle and will play its first home game April 1 against Orange County.
Papa Murphy’s sells bake-at-home pizzas – a fact Republic FC defender Emrah Klimenta clearly knew before he took up the microphone briefly at Thursday’s announcement.
“I just thought of this,” Klimenta said. “On the field, we’re going to shake and bake. Off the field, take and bake.”