Randy Koporc, president of Fifth Third Bank Georgia, said the connection between KSU and his bank came from several trustees on the KSU Foundation, such as Norm Radow, president of The Radco Companies, and Barry Hyman, a principal of Veracor.
“They knew of us and have become friends with Fifth Third, so it was a chance for us to connect, and we were able to expand some business relationships and connections brought us together,” Koporc said. “We’ve been on the ground since late 2008 in Georgia, so it was an opportunity to accelerate our brand. That meeting happened, we had dinner, and talked a little bit about the vision for football, and for us, we looked at a partner checklist of who we wanted to be associated with, finding something that was new territory, that wasn’t a plug-in, and this was an opportunity for us to do that.”
The goal was to find a partner who already had credibility in the community, something KSU has as Georgia’s third-largest university with an enrollment of 24,600 students.
“Kennesaw State is a fast emerging brand, somebody like Coach (Vince) Dooley’s sponsorship and assignment to this also added that other element of having that visibility we wanted to see and just the enthusiasm and passion that we see around football, and we also wanted a catalyst,” Koporc said. “So in addition to the university’s growth … football was that catalyst for us to want to be a part of that.”
In addition to the naming rights of the stadium, which will be called the Fifth Third Bank Stadium, the company will be the official bank of Kennesaw State Athletics, and it will receive sponsorship recognition at the KSU Convocation Center, Bailey Field and Stillwell Stadium, and advertising in game programs, television and radio broadcasts.
“Part of this, too, will be bringing ATMs and micro-branches to the university itself,” he said. “It really supports our franchise that we’re growing in east Cobb and throughout metro Atlanta.”
Fifth Third Bancorp, which reports $117 billion in assets, has 31 locations in Georgia, 10 of which are in Cobb County.
Papp said while the original estimate to launch a football program at KSU was pegged at $7 million to $10 million, that sum included the need to purchase additional athletic fields.
“As a result of the tremendous cooperation that has developed between the athletic department and club sports and intramurals, that money was no longer needed because now the athletic department for field-oriented sports will be able to basically rent some of the sports fields. … So that lowered the cost because we no longer needed to buy 15 additional acres,” Papp said.
While the $5 million bank sponsorship will launch the football program, Papp said he hopes to receive other sponsorships as well.
“We have letters of intent from a number of different organizations regarding rentals of the boxes over at the stadium,” Papp said. “If we wind up getting sufficient additional funds, we would put in a large press box, we would move some of the lights, we would put in a couple of additional buildings for equipment storage, but if we don’t get the additional funds we can run major programs there right as the stadium is. The best way to look at it is right now the stadium is really extremely good. The add-ons would make the stadium, let’s call it perfect.”
Papp said those additional sponsorships could bring in another $3.5 million to $4 million, assuming 100 percent of the boxes are rented out. Renting the boxes would bring in about $350,000 per year, he said.
“Ten boxes at 35 per year is $350,000,” Papp said. “You would finance the entire additional package over perhaps a 20-year period, thereby amortizing the cost over that period, so you would be paying off a little bit each year.”
A sum of $350,000 over 10 years is $3.5 million or $7 million over 20 years, he said.
Among those in attendance during the announcement Thursday at the Convocation Center was Dr. Betty Siegel, who during her tenure as KSU’s president from 1981 to 2006, put the university on the map by growing it from 4,000 students to 18,000.
Siegel smiled as she heard that the KSU’s inaugural football game had been scheduled for August 2015, a game she intends to attend.
“I used to be a cheerleader. I really was,” Siegel said. “Go Owls!”