Tuesday, December 10, 2013


                By now you’ve all heard the news.  The field at Memorial Stadium (not the stadium itself) will be named Kabam Field.  If I understand it correctly (highly unlikely) “Kabam” will be written on the 25 yard lines, on the 50, and on the wall behind the players’ bench.

                I can’t tell you the number of e-mails I received from friends utterly frustrated by this “sell out” and saying they can’t “wait to see the column” on this one.

                They know a Luddite when they see one.

                Alas, I’m afraid that once again I’m going to do what I do best—let others down.  This is good news.

                First the particulars:

                It is worth around $18,000,000 over a 15 year period.

                It’s been called the biggest “naming rights” deal in College stadia history.

                Kabam will fund a certain amount of scholarships for students in tech.

                Kabam will provide internships for students and student athletes alike.

                Kabam will pay for 500 veterans and their families to attend home games during the season.

                The athletic department will give $25,000 per year to the library (No it’s not “hush money”).

                (They may even donate money to teaching University administrators and graduates to use the words “alumnus and alumni” instead of the words “alum and alums”—but that may be too much to ask).

                And lastly, I’ve received an under the table payment not to criticize the arrangement.

                Actually, the bribe was unnecessary (I prefer wine to money, anyway).  

                Let’s face it:  Though games like The Hobbit: Armies of the Third Age, Fast & Furious 6: The Game, and Wartune, can’t hold a candle to Monopoly, (“Go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200—how exciting is that?), a rousing game of Parcheesi,  or a spirited round of Chutes and Ladders, who are we to judge?

                The world is changing and if kids think they can have fun without rolling a die (I know, I’m milking it), let them try.

                Though the temptation is to mock the deal (due mostly to the “cartoonish” nature of the name), it makes no sense to do so.  These are fine young kids who founded a company 10 years ago which is now grossing over $350,000,000 per year and employs 700 people worldwide.

                This is kapitalism at its best.  These kids are one per centers—everything Kal  is against, but some of us love.

                It’s been called the fastest growing internet media company (whatever that is) in the Bay Area.

                And they are Kal kids.  What’s not to like?

                Yes, at first blush it felt like, once again we were doing anything for a buck—but this one doesn’t pass the Gordon Gekko smell test.  

                If I’ve got it right, Kevin Chou, Holly Liu  and Micheal Li are all Kal Kids.  They are giving back—and hopefully getting a return for their investment as well.  It’s a win/win.

                Sandy called it a “great Cal story” and (unlike demoting Rugby) on this one she’s right.  

                With all that has gone wrong over the past couple of years, it’s wonderful to see a win for Kal for a change.  

                And if you have any doubts, John Wilton spoke at the Press Conference.  That means he was involved.  Whatever problems you may have with the administration—he ain’t it.  In fact, as my friend said yesterday, the Chancellor ought to turn the University over to him and step out of the way.  He’s been bailing out I.A.  for the past two years—but I digress.

                For years we’ve relied upon names like Hearst, Witter, and Haas to keep us afloat.  Recently, names like Spieker, Cronk, Rogers, Fisher, Maxwell , Simpson and others have come to the front.

                This could be the new age—the new frontier of successful gazillionaires--Kal grads all—bailing out the school they love—all only a year or two after they’re legally old enough to drink.

                Sure, we all long for the good old days before there was commercialism in sports (that would be 777 B.C. the year before the Ancient Olympics began in 776 B.C.).  

                Since we cannot return to those halcyon days of yore, we just have to make the best of a bad situation.  

 Sponsorships are nothing new.  I wore a Carpy Gang baseball uni paid for by a Main St. merchant.  The words “Ray’s Place” (Yes, that’s what it was), were stitched on the back of my ill-fitting jersey.  I was  11 at the time—promoting booze).   

 If we have to put sponsors names on the backs of our jerseys or on our fields to give young kids a chance to play interscholastic sports, better  it be the Kabams of the world—found by Kal Alumni, er Alums—as is in vogue today—than from government subsidies.

                Cal Athletics should think of these successful young Kal grads as “Wealth Insurance.”  And as we all know, “If you like your Wealth Insurance—you can keep your Wealth Insurance—Period!”

Go Bears,
Jeffrey Earl Warren ‘70

P.S.  All the above is predicated on the assumption that the Urban Dictionary definition of Kabam is pure co-incidence.  If it is intentional, all bets are off.

Caveat numero dos.  15 years?  It is possible that ten years down the line this will look like a huge bargain for one side or another.  If so, one can only hope that this is truly a partnership as has been advertised, and that the numbers will be re-negotiated—up or down—as the TV ratings (and “impressions”) dictate.

(For example:   Networks sell ads on Super Bowl on a Cost per thousand basis, based on rating points.  One might pay $3.5 million for a 30 second spot based on an assumed number of viewers.  If in the 4th quarter the game is a blowout, and only 20 million people are watching instead of the projected 40 million, the cost is adjusted downwards).



Don Costello said...


To their credit, young as they are, those responsible for the donation were mature enough not to use their individual names - in contrast to, say, some of the donor-gods of the past. That "Kabam" might sound silly to us crustaceans is on us and not them. We have not yet found comfort in a world of tweets, Apples and goo-goos.

- Don Costello, '70

Noel Murphy said...

Great story! Go Cal!