Hancock Whitney ‘repays kindness’ with USA stadium deal

The University of South Alabama (USA) has agreed a 10-year naming rights deal with financial services company Hancock Whitney for its new on-campus American football stadium.

The 25,000-seat stadium, which is scheduled to open in 2020, will be named Hancock Whitney Stadium in recognition of what the university said is a “comprehensive financial partnership” between the two organisations.

Based in the city of Mobile, Hancock Whitney Stadium broke ground last year and will be located on the west side of campus, adjacent to the Jaguar Training Center, Football Fieldhouse and football practice fields.

Included in the plans are a state-of-the-art video board and sound system, an end-zone terrace, 18-seat suites, a club level with 800 seats, and premier chair-back and bench-back seating options. The site will include hospitality areas for tailgating, events and recreational vehicle parking.

Under the terms of the agreement, which will run through the 2029 season, Hancock Whitney will provide the University of South Alabama with an array of financial and investment services.

“Hancock Whitney Stadium will propel South Alabama football and all Jaguar athletics programs to a new level of excellence, success and prestige,” said Dr. Joel Erdmann, the university’s director of athletics. “We have been deliberate and meticulous in planning every aspect of this stadium project, and our students, alumni and fans will be proud to call it home.”

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but the AL.com website said Erdmann stated Hancock Whitney’s investment covers a “significant chunk” toward debt-servicing of the venue’s $75m (£58.3m/€65.9m) price tag.

AL.com said the partnership also stems from a 50-year friendship between USA trustee Jim Yance and Hancock Whitney board chairman Jim Estabrook, who were college classmates at the university in the 1960s. Hancock Whitney chief executive John Hairston said the bank and the city also has a long-standing relationship dating back from the days following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“This is our home,” Hairston said. “Our organisation was founded an hour away from Mobile County. When Hurricane Katrina hit, the state of Alabama was very kind to us in terms of support and partnership after the storm.

“The state of Alabama gave us an emergency charter to start operations in Mobile County, because we had thousands of clients in Alabama who were cut off from Mississippi. Investment in Alabama is, for us, a way of repaying the kindness shown to us in those days after the storm. We’re proud to be a good member of this community.”

Image: University of South Alabama