Mayor Jerry Sanders and other local pols seeking a hint about how much longer the Chargers intend to continue playing in San Diego might do well to take a look at a sponsorship deal cemented earlier this year between the team and the University of California San Diego Health Sciences division. According to the four-year agreement, signed March 31 by health sciences purchasing manager Andy Lamb and April 4 by A.G. Spanos, the university has agreed to pay the Chargers $300,000 this year for a variety of sponsorship rights and promotional opportunities. Next season, the cost to UCSD goes up to $318,000, then to $337,080 in 2013, and finally to $357,304 in 2014.
But there’s a last-minute contract change initialed by Spanos and the university: the final two years of the deal are marked by asterisks, with a handwritten note at the bottom of the page saying, “If terminated per ‘expiration date’ clause in this Attachment A, these sponsorship fees will not be applicable.” Another clause in the contract says that if the Chargers “permanently relocate and play their Home Games at a location other than [Qualcomm] Stadium, [the Chargers] and Sponsor shall each have the right to terminate this Agreement upon written notice to the other, and the parties will negotiate in good faith to determine equitable terms for such termination.” Of course, that’s really not much of a secret to anyone who has been following the years-long stadium standoff between the City, the Chargers, and the team’s top legal and PR gun Mark Fabiani, who has consistently maintained that the team desires to stay in town if it gets a new taxpayer-funded stadium but still retains the contractual ability to pull up stakes virtually anytime it feels like it.
According to a statement regarding the UCSD contract emailed by Chargers spokesman Bill Johnston, “These are standard provisions in all of our agreements, and they have been there since 2007 when the lease with the City included the annual termination option. As a result, all of our agreements must account for this possibility. This includes similar language in all Club Seat and Suite agreements. Of course, that was more than four years ago and the team has never exercised the clause.”
Whether or not the Chargers are planning a future pullout, it’s certain that UCSD Health will be a sponsor of the team here for at least this season. What do they get for their cash? According to the contract with the Chargers, the university is the exclusive “Hospital and Healthcare Systems” sponsor of the team’s “Women’s Club program and any other related Chargers female fan initiatives.” UCSD has the right to “year-round use of Chargers logos and marks in connection with the Chargers Women’s Club and other approved promotional events such as a player appearance.”
The club, called Lightning Ladies — a name once considered for the Charger Girls cheerleading squad — offers memberships for $50, which include, according to the team’s website, a “Welcome Letter, Membership Card, Beach Tote, Women’s Tee Shirt, Hat, Flip Flops,” and a “UC San Diego Health System Tumbler.” Also, “15% discount on Chargers Merchandise at the Chargers Team Store at Gate G Qualcomm Stadium (no discount on game days)” and a 15 percent discount at the team’s online store. Five percent of Lightning Ladies’ membership fees will be donated to the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign. But the Chargers, not the university, keep the rest of the membership fee and all other proceeds.
For its part, UCSD will get two 30-second pregame commercial spots per game on the “Chargers Flagship Radio Station” along with two spots of the same length during the game and another two during the postgame show. Thirty-two “bonus” 30-second spots throughout the season are also included, along with 32 spots to use if scheduled spots are subsequently preempted. In return, if the Chargers make the playoffs, the university has agreed to buy postseason radio commercials, $2000 total for two spots each in the pre- and postgame shows, and $2250 for two “in-game” commercials, along with “$500 per broadcast for the presenting sponsorship of the Coaches Challenges” and “$500 per broadcast for the post-game sponsorship of the Bumps & Bruises report.”
Meantime, UCSD will be mentioned in two posts on the “Chargers Official Facebook page promoting the Women’s Club” and “One video posting of UCSD Health System content segment via Chargers Official Facebook page,” as well as “two tweets from the Chargers Official Twitter account.” On television, the team has agreed “to make best efforts to provide a product shot on Chargers Gameday TV show.” There will also be a “UCSD Health System Awareness Day” on which “65,000 dual branded premium items” will be “distributed to fans upon entry.” And the university will get “Two JumboTron UCSD Health Systems thank you’s” plus a kiosk in the Chargers Bud Light Power Party “prior to each regular season home game.”
Also included in the agreement is the “Training Camp Chalk Talk,” a private practice session for “up to one hundred fifty people on a mutually agreed upon date in August.” Attendees can be members of the “Chargers Women’s Club or UCSD employees,” and the event will feature a “Chalk Talk with a Chargers Alumni, autographed merchandise for raffle,” and “coach and player autograph opportunities.” Kim Kennedy, executive director of marketing and communications for UC Health, says those tickets will be distributed to employees.
The deal’s most attractive perk: four club level season tickets and two parking passes. Kennedy says they will be used for such purposes as hosting prospective clinical faculty members during recruiting visits to the campus.