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Plugged In

Game maker Kabam buys naming rights to Cal’s Memorial Stadium

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Go Bears -- and gamers? (Credit: Cal)

They’re already a leading developer of free-to-play online games, but San Francisco-based Kabam Entertainment is hoping to become more of a household name. Especially if your household graduated from the University of California at Berkeley – or just follows college football.

Kabam dropped a whopping $18 million to acquire naming rights to the field at Cal’s famous Memorial Stadium, hereafter known as "Kabam Field at California Memorial Stadium," because that really rolls off the tongue.

Paid out over the next 15 years (at $1.2 million per year), the naming rights deal is the largest in the history of college sports.

The exorbitant sum is good news for Cal, which is looking to pay down over $300 million in debts incurred after renovating and retrofitting the 90 year-old stadium in 2012. Three of Kabam’s four founders, including CEO Kevin Chou, are Cal graduates, which might explain why they’d drop so much coin to rename a field for a team currently sporting a 1-11 record (as a Cal alumnus myself, it pained me to write that).

Kabam also has money to burn. The maker of games like The Hobbit: Armies of the Third Age, Dragons of Atlantis and The Godfather: Five Families reported $180 million in gross revenue in 2012 and recently raised its expected 2013 revenue to $325 million. The company’s valued at over $700 million and is considering an IPO.

Kabam's name will appear on the field at both 25-yard lines as well as on a sign above the Cal bench at the 50-yard line.The company will also establish a scholarship program at the university for students interested in disruptive technology.

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