LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 1, 2020) — The longstanding relationship between the University of Kentucky and the UK Federal Credit Union (UKFCU) is expanding.
The credit union and JMI Sports, UK’s multimedia rights partner, have announced a naming rights partnership with the university for the esports complex in The Cornerstone, a new multiuse facility now under construction at the corner of South Limestone and Winslow Street on campus.
The UK Federal Credit Union Esports Lounge and Theater will be the new home for UK’s burgeoning esports program and part of UK’s innovative plan to become a global leader in esports and higher education.
The 13-year naming rights deal further enhances a relationship that began when the UKFCU was founded in 1937 by members of the UK College of Agriculture (now the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment).
"We are very excited to be the official sponsor of the Esports Lounge at the University of Kentucky,” said David Kennedy, University of Kentucky Federal Credit Union’s president and CEO. “The investment our credit union is making in UK's new esports program represents our commitment to innovate and cultivate new technologies and ideas for a large group of students. While typical sports teams are limited to a smaller population of the student body, we view esports as an opportunity for all students to participate. UKFCU is proud to have served the UK community for 83 years and we are excited to grow our relationship for the next generation."
Scheduled to open in phases this fall, The Cornerstone is a multifaceted, multipurpose space that will support the university's future in technology, entrepreneurship, education, creativity, service and research, while working hand-in-hand to make strides in the university’s Transportation Master Plan.
The property will include more than 900 new parking spaces and about 23,000 square feet on the ground floor dedicated to retail and innovation space, which will serve students, the UK campus and the greater Lexington community. Earlier this year UK announced a multi-vendor food hall on the ground level will be named The Cornerstone Exchange, and it will house Kentucky-based dining establishments.
“The university is grateful to partner with the UK Federal Credit Union on the naming of the Esports Lounge and Theater in The Cornerstone,” said UK Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Eric N. Monday. “This innovation and retail space is vital to supporting our community’s success, and, through this partnership, we can further create a collaborative space for thoughtful community-building and engagement.”
The theater features 100 seats on retractable risers, and the esports gamers lounge offers more than 50 PC-based gaming units and multiple console-play areas — allowing for daily use of the space as well as the ability to host esports tournaments and conferences. The flexibility of the facility will also allow for engagement in a variety of other activities.
Interior and exterior signage will designate the esports lounge and theater areas as the UK Federal Credit Union Esports Lounge and Theater. UKFCU will also sponsor a feature night throughout the academic year, a speaker series and an esports conference as part of their partnership with UK and JMI Sports.
Monday says the vision for The Cornerstone is to leverage the open-format space and use of technology to maximize student success, enhance a sense of community and bring together the university and city. Moreover, the space will foster outcome- and solution-driven thinking and design, connect people with different passions and interests and provide new pathways for career development in entrepreneurial fields.
The naming of the lounge is the latest initiative of the credit union’s focus on enhanced financial services on UK’s campus. In 2018, the UKFCU secured a continued on-campus presence in the Gatton Student Center with a full-service branch to offer complete banking and financial education services. Additionally, in 2016, it was announced that the UKFCU would remain the official credit union of the university, extending its partnership with UK to provide the faculty, staff, students and alumni, with the financial tools and education to last throughout their lifetimes.
About UKFCU: Founded in 1937 by members of UK’s College of Agriculture, the UK Federal Credit Union (UKFCU) has been proudly serving the University of Kentucky and Central Kentucky for 83 years. Abiding by the core mission of members helping members achieve financial well-being, UKFCU has grown to over 95,000 members and over $1 billion in assets. UKFCU is a full-service financial institution offering a wide assortment of products and services, ranging from checking and savings accounts to auto loans and mortgages to investment services. Located in Lexington, Kentucky, UKFCU has over six branch locations, including one in the Gatton Student Center, and mobile and online banking to help keep members connected to their accounts. Since 2016, UKFCU has been in partnership with JMI Sports to be the Official Credit Union of the University of Kentucky. For information about how to join the UK Federal Credit Union, visit www.ukfcu.org.
About JMI Sports: JMI Sports is a full-service collegiate marketing firm providing the highest quality management of athletics multimedia rights, working hand-in-hand with each partner in the pursuit of their success. The company serves to maximize each client’s economic potential through customized marketing and branding initiatives. JMI Sports manages an impressive list of signature partnerships including the University of Kentucky, Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center, Clemson University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Pittsburgh, Harvard University, and joint-venture properties of the University of Georgia and Columbia University (with Learfield IMG College), and University of Notre Dame (with Legends). JMI Sports also represents several high-profile conferences including the Ivy League, the Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West Conference, the Southern Conference and the Patriot League. Additionally, JMI Sports holds Total Campus Marketing rights in partnership with the University of Kentucky and Clemson University. Founded in 2006 by Erik Judson and technology entrepreneur John Moores, former owner of the San Diego Padres, JMI Sports is also a highly regarded project manager for the development of collegiate and professional sports facilities.
As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.
In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.