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Outfront close to landing Lobo media rights

A new company is close to taking over the University of New Mexico’s multi-media rights, but university officials aren’t saying how much they are expecting to make off the new deal.

Outfront Media Sports Inc. and UNM are finalizing a contract for UNM’s multi-media rights. A regents committee on Tuesday gave preliminary approval to the deal and allowed the university president to approve a “bridge agreement” until the contract is signed.

The contract “will go before the full board of regents when it’s ready,” said Regent Sandra Begay, chair of the Finance and Facilities Committee. “It might be ready by next Tuesday (at the next regents meeting) or it might be ready by September.”

The holder of the media rights makes money by selling sponsorships for radio shows, television broadcasts, coaches shows and other events or products.

It’s not clear how much those rights cost. Athletic director Eddie Nuñez said UNM will get a percentage of Outfront’s profits, but he declined to share additional details about the negotiations.

Outfront “did their presentation to us as far as what their expectations are financially to us. We feel very comfortable with that, but there are some minor things we are still working out,” Nuñez said. “I’m going to hold off on my expectation. … The fact is we’re excited to have them as partners. They understand our values and our vision.”

Outfront also works for the New Mexico Activities Association, Nuñez said.

Budget documents approved by regents last spring show UNM athletics is planning to make $4 million off the media rights deal, which is significantly less than the prior rights holder had agreed to pay UNM.

Learfield Communications Inc. has held UNM multi-media rights dating back to 2007. The company was under contract to hold the rights through June 2020 until UNM and Learfield agreed to cut off their relationship one year early.

Learfield’s most recent contract with UNM called for the company to make guaranteed payments to UNM each year worth at least $4.6 million to $5.1 million annually. UNM was slated to make more than $5 million for the rights during the upcoming school year.

But UNM and Learfield in 2015 amended the contract, which reduced how much Learfield had to pay the university and shifted assets from Learfield back to UNM, Nuñez said.

The university has yet to provide the Journal with a copy of the amended contract, which was never signed or posted on the university’s website as other contracts and amendments between UNM and Learfield had been.

Outfront was the highest-ranked offer for the contract, according to university documents. The company beat out four other companies who bid for the rights, including Learfield.

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