How did each American Athletic football stadium get its name? What are the stories behind the names to college football’s shrines?
From benefactors to memorials, each Conference USA football stadium has its own unique flavor and history.
From benefactors to memorials, each American Athletic football stadium has its own unique flavor and history.
So what’s in a name?
Their names are as much a part of the sport as the players that wear the school colors or the coaches that prowl the sidelines – with the exception of those places named after nicknames or schools. They’re integral fragments of your autumn vernacular, yet you often know not who they are. You’ve spent countless hours and memorable moments in their houses, but you’d struggle to identify them in a photo.
They are the names behind the football stadium names. The men, women and corporations, who’ve been honored for their unwavering service, dedication and generosity to institutions of higher learning.
Those surnames on the outside facing of your favorite American Athletic football stadiums and the face of your Saturday afternoon ticket stubs are real people. Real special—and philanthropic—people in most instances. Their backgrounds and paths to immortality are as diverse as the architecture of the arenas themselves. Their drive for success and love for a school are the ties that bind this unique collection of individuals.
Cincinnati – Nippert Stadium
Named for … Jimmy Nippert
Who was he? In 1923, James Gamble donated $250,000 in memory of Nippert, his grandson, to help complete construction of the stadium. Earlier that year, Nippert suffered a wound in a game with Miami University and died suddenly from blood poisoning.
Connecticut – Rentschler Field
Named for … Frederick Rentschler
Who was he? Rentschler was the brilliant inventor and founder of Pratt & Whitney, the aircraft company, which donated the land upon which the stadium was built in 2003.
East Carolina – Bagwell Field at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium
Named for … James Skinner Ficklen, Ron and Mary Ellen Dowdy and Al and Debby Bagwell
Who were they? Ficklen, a Greenville native and prominent business leader in the community, established a foundation in the 1950s that sponsored scholarships for Pirate students. In 1994, the Dowdys gave a $1 million gift to the university that went toward the expansion of the stadium. The Bagwells, both ECU alums, were honored in 1998 for their gift to the school’s Educational Foundation.
Houston – John O’Quinn Field at TDECU Stadium
Named for … John and Julie O’Quinn and Texas Dow Employees Credit Union
Who were they? The O’Quinn’s foundation donated $6 million to the football program, making a massive renovation of the original stadium possible in 1999. Mr. O’Quinn is a member of the UH System Board of Regents and a 1967 alum of the UH Law Center. TDECU is a financial cooperative that agreed in 2014 to pay $15 million over 10 years for the naming rights to the Cougars’ new building, which opened for the start of the 2014 season.
SMU – Gerald J. Ford Stadium
Named for … Gerald J. Ford
Who is he? Despite popular notion, this Gerald Ford never followed Richard Nixon into the White House. He is, however, a billionaire banker and alum of the Dallas school who provided the lead gift of $20 million prior to the construction of the new stadium in 2000. He’s also the former chair of the SMU Board of Trustees and recipient of the school’s Distinguished Alumni Award.
South Florida – Raymond James Stadium
Named for … Raymond James Financial
Who are they? Raymond James is one of the largest investment firms in the United States. In 1998, the company bought naming rights to the Tampa stadium in a deal that will cost them $3.1 million annually until 2026. The Bulls share the facility with the NFL’s Buccaneers.
Temple – Lincoln Financial Field
Named for … Lincoln Financial Group
Who are they? In June 2002, the naming rights to Philadelphia’s new state-of-the-art stadium went to Lincoln Financial Group, one of the country’s prominent financial services companies. The agreement calls for the company to pay $6.7 million a year until 2022.
Tulane – Benson Field at Yulman Stadium
Named for … Tom Benson and Richard Yulman
Who are they? The Green Wave’s new home replaced the Superdome in 2014. Benson, the owner of the New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans, donated $7.5 million toward the construction of the stadium. Yulman, who made his fortune at mattress giant Serta, provided $15 million toward construction, gaining naming rights, and has been a frequent contributor to Tulane.
Tulsa – Skelly Field at H.A. Chapman Stadium
Named for … William Skelly and H.A. Chapman
Who were they? An oil baron and civic leader, Skelly helped underwrite the construction of the program’s first football stadium, when he donated $125,000 in 1930. In 2007, Chapman, the son of local philanthropists, was honored for bankrolling stadium renovations.
UCF – Bright House Networks Stadium
Named for … Bright House Networks
Who are they? Bright House Networks is the main provider of cable television in central Florida. The company purchased naming rights to the newly-minted stadium in 2006 for 15 years at the cost of $15 million.