Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
It’s not just the coaches and players who are busy making final preparations for the Lobos football season that gets underway Saturday afternoon.
Those on the revenue-generating side are also making final touches before game day.
Athletic department administrators are finalizing a deal with Outfront Media Sports Inc. for the multimedia rights for athletics at the University of New Mexico this year. Outfront is currently operating under a bridge agreement with the university as it tries to secure sponsors for the imminent season, said Dave Williams, the deputy athletic director for external affairs.
“Outfront has been contacting all the sponsors that have previously had a place in our football games and having those conversations about ‘Do we still have a contract moving forward? How are we doing with those contracts?’ ” Williams said. “Most of those contracts at this point have been discussed. Most have been renewed. I don’t have a percentage off the top of my head, but the game days will operate as they always have operated.”
This is the first year that Outfront will hold UNM’s multimedia rights. The partnership was announced earlier this month.
In prior years, the contract brought in more than 10% of the athletic department’s entire revenue, according to budget documents.
Learfield held UNM’s multimedia rights from 2007 through the end of June, when UNM and Learfield agreed to break their partnership a year early, according to UNM documents. Athletic Director Eddie Nuñez said there were several reasons for the split, including that an unsigned agreement between Learfield and UNM had reduced Learfield’s annual payments, which in the contract reached as high as $5.1 million in exchange for assets they returned to the athletic department.
This year’s still-being-worked contract with Outfront will call on the company and UNM to share the profits, Nuñez said. Athletic department officials have said it’s too early to say how much they will make off the deal. Budget documents project it will bring in $4 million.
“We’ve been so busy trying to just make sure that we make all the phone calls and have initial contacts with people that we haven’t had a chance to really sit back and say where we are financially,” he said. “All we are caring about right now is putting out as good of a production on game day as we possibly can.”
So officials are reaching out to many previous supporters of Lobo football.
Williams said that, in prior years, the athletic department had more than 100 different sponsors for UNM sports. Most sponsorships cross multiple platforms for different sports, he said.
Williams said that though many contracts were still being finalized midway through the week, the school is prepared for game day and fans.
For example, Williams said the play-by-play announcers for the football game have committed to calling the game while their contracts are being finalized. The radio show held the Wednesday before each game attended by head football coach Bob Davie went on, though the show was recorded in-studio instead of at a local bar or brewery, as in previous years.
“The entire athletic department’s goal is to increase the perception of our brand. That is why all these changes that have occurred in the external area, that’s why they are happening,” Williams said. “Sometimes it’s going to have growing pains.”