Simmons Bank Close to Acquiring Naming Rights to Memphis' Liberty Bowl Stadium

Simmons Bank Close to Acquiring Naming Rights to Memphis' Liberty Bowl Stadium
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis in 2019. Simmons Bank of Pine Bluff is advanced talks to purchase naming rights to the stadium. (Shutterstock)

Simmons Bank of Pine Bluff on Friday announced that it's in advanced negotiations to be the title sponsor of Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, a deal that would rename the venue Simmons Bank Memorial Stadium.

The bank is hoping to reach an agreement on the multi-year deal in time for the University of Memphis football team's Oct. 14 nationally-televised game against Navy, according to Simmons Executive Vice President and Director of Investment Ed Bilek. 

Bilek said he could not disclose financial terms of the deal.

The venue management company Spectra has run the stadium since 2011 and is negotiating naming rights on the city's behalf. 

The deal would further expand the bank's presence east of the Mississippi River. Earlier this year, Simmons announced that it's acquiring Landmark Community Bank of Collierville, Tennessee, and Triumph Bancshares Inc., the parent company of Triumph Bank of Memphis, in deals worth a combined $277.9 million.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said in a news release that the city's partnership with Simmons will help "enhance the overall fan experience at the stadium" and complement a new $126 million project to convert the area surrounding the stadium, formerly the Mid-South Fairgrounds, into a multi-use park with a sports and events center. 

“Through this partnership with Simmons Bank, we continue to honor the history of the stadium while ushering in a new era as Simmons Bank Memorial Stadium," Strickland said.

The stadium, which also hosts the Southern Heritage Classic and AutoZone Liberty Bowl, was built by the city in 1965 as a tribute to military veterans. It was originally named Memphis Memorial Stadium. It was renamed Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in 1975.

Renovations and expansions over the years have brought the stadium's capacity to 58,325.

University of Memphis Director of Athletics Laird Veatch said the partnership is a "progressive step forward for our community and the home of Memphis Tiger football."

"We look forward to working with all our partners to create the best experiences for every fan that enters the gates of Simmons Bank Memorial Stadium," he said in the release.

Simmons has built its brand visibility in recent years by acquiring naming rights to several high-profile buildings in central Arkansas. Verizon Arena in North Little Rock became Simmons Bank Arena in 2019. The year before, Simmons purchased a 12-story building in downtown Little Rock that was the former headquarters of Acxiom. 

The Simmons Bank logo can also be seen atop the tallest building in Arkansas. The bank acquired naming rights to the 40-story skyscraper in downtown Little Rock after the acquisition of Metropolitan National Bank in 2014.

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