USF Athletics announced a 10-year multimedia partnership with Tampa Bay Entertainment Properties today, guaranteeing the Bulls at least $29 million in revenue through the end of the term. Tampa Bay Entertainment Properties is a new venture controlled by Jeff Vinik, owner of both the Tampa Bay Lightning and Strategic Property Partners, creators of the re-development of Downtown Tampa.
The deal begins July 1st, and includes “exclusive rights to all commercial multimedia sports marketing, sponsorship, and respective inventory possessed by USF Athletics.” After an annual guarantee is met, USF will also receive 80% of all net revenue between $200,000 and $1 million, and 50% of all revenue beyond $1 million. TBEP will receive 35% of the naming rights to the Sun Dome once sold, minus the costs of fulfilling the naming agreement.
The current rights partner IMG Sports will leave at the end of this baseball season after the expiration of a 10-year, $22 million guaranteed deal. That 2007 deal with ISP, which became IMG Sports, was signed with USF having just moved to the Big East Conference. A 30% increase in revenue is significant considering the loss of cache with membership in the American Athletic Conference. Mark Harlan confirmed on a conference call that the annual rights guarantee hasn’t been exceeded by IMG since his arrival as athletic director in 2014.
"Tampa Bay Entertainment Properties is proud to be representing the University of South Florida as we deepen an already excellent relationship," said Steve Griggs, TBEP’s Chief Executive Officer and former President of the Lightning. “We have formed many great partnerships over the past few years under Jeff Vinik's leadership in the local and regional community and we look forward to taking our partnership philosophies representing USF Athletics through exceptional brand strategy, world class activation and community focus.”
“As we work with corporate partners, putting the fans first is going to be a primary focus,” said Harlan. “I think it’s fair to say the work we’ve seen in Amalie Arena... is the model.” The Lightning are consistently rated as one of the best franchises in all of North American sports, including #1 from ESPN in 2016.
To see what a multimedia rights holder does generally, here’s a list of the inventory IMG Sports has currently as part of their expiring agreement with USF.
The “letter of intent” between USF and TBEP, which refers to TBEP as a “newly formed entity to be formed hereafter,” aims to have a contract in full between the parties in 45 days. Both sides in the agreement will have an opt-out clause in the fifth year of the deal. Any rights for naming or signage for a potential on-campus stadium for football aren’t mentioned, but could be negotiated later if that came to pass.