LEXINGTON, Ky. — The 11th of the letters spelling “Kroger Field” was raised a few minutes before noon on Tuesday on the north side of what some Kentucky fans will always know as Commonwealth Stadium.
Two workers on an orange crane completed the first of what will likely not be the last of Kroger Field signage on the stadium.
The last letter is headed up. pic.twitter.com/28vKSgfQa9
— Joe Mussatto (@joe_mussatto) July 25, 2017
New signage is also expected on the west side of the stadium where white, block letters used to spell out Commonwealth Stadium. The backdrop of the sign is now painted blue.
It was announced on May 1 that Commonwealth Stadium would become Kroger Field. The naming rights agreement lasts up to 12 years and begins at $1.85 million annually. The agreement is between JMI Sports and Kroger in partnership with Kentucky.
Kentucky is the first SEC school to sell naming rights for its football stadium. The name change has been met with skepticism by some fans, but Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart said this on the day of the name change announcement:
“I love our fans and want to make sure that we’re always listening, but at the end of the day, I’ve still got to put the enterprise of making sure that our young people have the best opportunity to compete in the SEC,” Barnhart said. “If I said to our fans, ‘What’s most important: How we get there in terms of the names and things like that, or do you want us to compete well and have really quality student-athletes?’ I think they would all say something, ‘Let’s go do the best for our student-athletes.’”
Kentucky’s first game at Kroger Field will be at noon ET on Sept. 9 against Eastern Kentucky. The Wildcats open the season at 4 p.m. ET Sept. 2 at Southern Miss.