The San Francisco-based fintech startup known as SoFi is in late-stage talks with the National Football League to acquire the naming rights to one of the most expensive sports venues stadium in the country, the $5 billion sports mega-complex set to open in 2020 that will be the new home of the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers, the FOX Business Network has learned.
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The deal would be a coup for SoFi’s new chief executive, Anthony Noto, the former chief operating officer of Twitter, who was once considered a candidate to run the social media outfit.
Noto left Twitter last year to join SoFi –a 2011 startup that focused on the Ivy League student loan market – that has more recently embarked on a major expansion plan to diversify the company’s financial offering beyond its core business of student loan lending.
If a deal can be reached with the NFL, SoFi could pay as much as $20 million a year over the next decade and possibly longer, said a person with direct knowledge of the negotiations. SoFi, though known in the fintech world, would gain significant marketing prominence because it would then be associated with two of the NFL’s most high-profile teams (the Rams lost in last year’s Super Bowl, and the Chargers lost in the divisional round), and their new multi-use venue that is scheduled to host the 2022 Super Bowl.
A SoFi spokesman declined to comment but would not deny the talks; an NFL spokesman had no immediate comment.
According to Bloomberg News, SoFi has been busy raising hundreds of millions of dollars from various investors, including late-stage talks with the Qatar Investment Authority. The investment would value SoFi, also known as Social Finance Inc., at $4.7 billion, Bloomberg said. The company’s marketing budget under Noto is said to be around $200 million annually.
The move also underscores the importance corporate America places on sports marketing—as many as 350 stadiums in the country have corporate sponsors who pay tens of millions of dollars a year each to have their names associated with various teams.
Some of the biggest include AT&T Stadium, which is home to the Dallas Cowboys, and Citifield, sponsored by megabank Citigroup, which is home to the New York Mets.
Noto, the former top executive at Twitter, is also familiar with sports marketing. After a long career as an analyst and banker at Goldman Sachs, he spent three years as the CFO for the NFL.
The deal for the new Los Angeles stadium is not complete, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter. But the negotiations are considered to be in the late stages, and they largely involve Noto, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and Stan Kroenke, the billionaire owner of the Rams.
A representative for Kroenke couldn’t be reached for comment.