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Why FirstBank signed a naming rights deal for Vanderbilt University’s football stadium

SEPTEMBER 09, 2022

By Joel Stinnett  –  Senior Reporter, Nashville Business Journal

Sep 9, 2022

Last week, Nashville-based FirstBank put its name atop Vanderbilt University’s 100-year-old football stadium, as part of a 10-year naming rights agreement.

But the deal isn’t aimed at just building brand awareness with the Commodores — CEO Chris Holmes hopes FirstBank Stadium will catch the eyes of Gators, Gamecocks, Tigers and Bulldogs, as well.

“As other schools come [to play Vanderbilt], Nashville is a favorite spot for folks to come visit,” Holmes said in an interview. “Our presence is not the entire Southeastern Conference but if you consider our ambitions, we have big ambitions just like Vanderbilt does to continue to grow across the Southeast. Having that name that goes throughout the southeast was part of our consideration.”

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. In addition to the naming rights, Vanderbilt Athletics and Vanderbilt Alumni Association will use FirstBank as their official bank.

The partnership also sets up engagement with FirstBank through different avenues at the university. Varsity programs with Vanderbilt Athletics have access to a new multimedia arrangement and FirstBank will sponsor various internships and alumni programming. 

Holmes said the deal has been in the works for approximately nine months, after the university approached FirstBank, and others. Vanderbilt is the second-largest university in Middle Tennessee, with 13,796 in total enrollment.

“If you think about the Nashville community, what name is more closely aligned with Nashville than Vanderbilt? If you think about the history of Nashville, there is probably not a more important institution,” Holmes said. “It’s a way for us to be more deeply involved in the community. It’s a way for us to show our commitment to the community. It is also a way for us to align our brand with a brand that is revered worldwide, all over the country and especially in our community.”

A subsidiary of FB Financial Corp (NYSE: FBK), FirstBank’s total assets amount to $12.6 billion with 81 full-service branches in Georgia, Kentucky, Alabama and Tennessee. The lender is the sixth-largest bank in the Nashville area, according to Business Journal research, with $4.87 billion in local deposits.

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