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SoFi Stadium: Naming rights sold for Los Angeles' new arena

Sun Sep 15 12:51pm ET
By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) SoFi Stadium is the name of the palatial new home of the Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers.

The growing personal finance company formally known as Social Finance has reached a 20-year agreement for the naming rights to the multibillion-dollar stadium complex in Inglewood, California, the teams announced Sunday.

SoFi Stadium is on schedule to open next summer in Hollywood Park ahead of the 2020 season for Los Angeles' two NFL teams. One season later, the stadium will host the Super Bowl.

SoFi was only founded in 2011, but the Bay Area-based online lending startup has grown rapidly into a prominent financial services business particularly successful among people refinancing student loan debt. Led by CEO Anthony Noto, a former NFL executive, and fresh off a $500 million round of equity financing led by Qatar's sovereign wealth fund in May, SoFi bought the naming rights to reap extraordinary exposure from the world's most prominent new stadium.

''It was something that really took a while for us to convince them that we were the right partner, and really gain the confidence that we could make that long-term commitment,'' Noto told The Associated Press. ''We're super excited to have got to this point. They're building something that's unprecedented, and I think the impact it could have (on SoFi) will be equally unprecedented.''

The 70,000-seat stadium is the centerpiece of a 298-acre complex developed by Rams owner Stan Kroenke and shared by owner Dean Spanos' Chargers. Along with the 2022 Super Bowl, the arena also will host the 2023 College Football Playoff national championship game, an annual college football bowl game, and the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2028 Olympics.

With SoFi's name out front, the entire complex will have a prominent role in the future of the NFL and the Los Angeles metroplex.

''It's one of these forward-thinking companies,'' Spanos told the AP. ''It's in the forefront of innovation in their industry. That's something and somebody we want to be associated with as our stadium takes on that same sort of energy, because it's something that nobody has ever done before. I think what Stan has built here and done here, in his creativity with this whole development, this probably is going to redefine this area of Los Angeles for the next century. It's going to be something that LA is going to be very proud to have.''

Spanos and Rams chief operating officer Kevin Demoff are both pleased by the addition of a young, technologically savvy partner with the naming rights deal.

''When Stan started to imagine what sports and entertainment district at Hollywood Park to be, he wanted to find not only world-class partners, but innovative partners,'' Demoff told the AP. ''He wanted to bring someone unique to the table that hadn't been there before, and I think SoFi is a terrific partner because under Anthony's leadership, you can see their vision for financial technology, for changing banking and loans, and really that process of putting the customer first is very similar to what we want to do at the stadium. I think it's a unique fit for what we believe will be the greatest stadium in the world.''

Kroenke and Demoff also were pleased by the compact, alliterative name for such an expansive project, Demoff said.

''SoFi Stadium - I'm a fan of alliteration, so I love it,'' Demoff said. ''That may be very 10th-grade English of me, but I think it's a very natural-sounding name.''

Noto has a personal connection to the stadium and to its primary sport: The former Goldman Sachs partner also is the former chief financial officer of the NFL, and he worked on the league's groundwork efforts a decade ago to return to the Los Angeles market. After he became the chief operating officer of Twitter in 2014, Noto worked on its agreement to stream NFL games on the platform.

''I really had a front-row seat on seeing the impact (the NFL) could have on a business like ours,'' Noto said. ''It's a small component of our overall marketing budget and our overall spending budget, but the benefit we get from reallocating the investment into this from other things is magnitudes greater.''

SoFi recently has partnered with sports brands ranging from college basketball conference tournaments to the U.S. Open tennis tournament and the X Games. Noto said SoFi aggregated the audiences that saw their combined sponsorship efforts in 2018 and came up with about 15 million unique viewers for the entire year.

That's roughly the same amount of exposure they'll get from one prime-time NFL game in SoFi Stadium, Noto said.

Noto praised his former boss, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, for this culmination of the league's years of patient planning for a return to the nation's second-largest market.

''It's a result of Roger's vision back in 2008 and `09 when he established he wanted the LA market to be not just another stadium, but to be this iconic destination,'' Noto said. ''Stan and Dean are bringing it to life in a way that no one could truly comprehend when Roger laid out the vision.''

Along with the name, SoFi members will have their own lounge inside the stadium, and the company will stage additional events and seminars at the complex.

The money from a naming rights deal typically offsets construction costs, and Kroenke's project is expected to cost more than $5 billion. The Hollywood Park project already sold separate naming rights last month to American Airlines for a year-round performance venue and stadium entrance area.

Player Notes
Marcus Mariota Oct 15 9:43pm ET

Tennessee Titans QB Marcus Mariota will be replaced by backup Ryan Tannehill Sunday, Oct. 20, for the Week 7 matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers, sources told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero.

Fantasy Spin: Mariota should be kept in dynasty leagues, as the former No. 2 overall pick will surely get a look elsewhere is the Titans choose to part ways, but his time in Tennessee appears to be done. He can be dropped in all redraft formats and all but the deepest of keeper leagues.

From TheHuddle

Oct 15 9:43pm ET

New York Jets DB Bennett Jackson was signed by the Baltimore Ravens on Tuesday, Oct. 15.

From TheHuddle

Jalen Mills Oct 15 9:33pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles CB Jalen Mills (hamstring) returned to practice Tuesday, Oct. 15.

From TheHuddle

Ryan Tannehill Oct 15 9:33pm ET

Tennessee Titans QB Ryan Tannehill was informed Tuesday, Oct. 15, he'll get the Week 7 start against the Los Angeles Chargers, sources told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero.

Fantasy Spin: Tannehill becomes nothing more than a low-end QB2 even in an adequate matchup. He can be scooped up in deeper two-quarterback leagues, but he shouldn't be started this week unless there are no other available options.

From TheHuddle

Peyton Barber Oct 15 9:23pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Dare Ogunbowale led the backfield with 46 offensive snaps played in the Week 6 matchup against the Carolina Panthers. Peyton Barber played 19 snaps and Ronald Jones saw just 13.

Fantasy Spin: Ogunbowale was rarely used when on the field, rushing just once for a three-yard touchdown while catching three of five passes for 22 yards. The Bucs trailed by large amounts for much of the game so this one-game sample shouldn't be worth much. Jones remains the most appealing of the three.

From TheHuddle

Stephon Tuitt Oct 15 9:23pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers DE Stephon Tuitt (pectoral) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Tuesday, Oct. 15.

From TheHuddle

Jalen Ramsey Oct 15 8:23pm ET

Los Angeles Rams CB Jalen Ramsey was acquired from the Jacksonville Jaguars Tuesday, Oct. 15, in exchange for a 2020 first-round draft pick, a 2021 first-round pick and a 2021 fourth-round pick, the Jaguars announced.

From TheHuddle

Alvin Kamara Oct 15 8:23pm ET

New Orleans Saints RB Alvin Kamara (ankle) is dealing with a high-ankle type issue that will limit him in practice through the week, a source told NFL Network's Tom Pelissero Tuesday, Oct. 15. Kamara believes he still has a shot to play against the Chicago Bears Sunday, Oct. 20.

Fantasy Spin: Latavius Murray becomes a hot commodity on waiver wires wherever he's available. He doesn't possess Kamara-level abilities in the passing game, but he'll see the necessary volume on the ground even in a difficult matchup. Dwayne Washington is the only other RB on the roster.

From TheHuddle

Marcus Peters Oct 15 7:53pm ET

Baltimore Ravens CB Marcus Peters will make his debut with the team Sunday, Oct. 20, against the Seattle Seahawks, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter Tuesday, Oct. 15.

From TheHuddle

Theo Riddick Oct 15 7:23pm ET

Denver Broncos QB Drew Lock (thumb), RB Theo Riddick (shoulder), TE Jake Butt (knee) and WR Tim Patrick (hand) are likely to return to practice next week, according to Mike Klis of 9News Tuesday, Oct. 15. Only two of the four will be able to be activated at that time.

From TheHuddle

Alex Smith Oct 15 7:13pm ET

Washington Redskins QB Alex Smith (leg) was spotted on the practice field Monday, Oct. 14, by Ben Standig of The Athletic. Smith is 11 months removed from the leg injury which ended his 2018 season and threatens his career. The veteran was throwing a variety of routes with two team officials and was later seen with a compression sleeve on his leg.

From TheHuddle

Jason Pierre-Paul Oct 15 6:13pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers DE Jason Pierre-Paul (neck) participated in practice Tuesday, Oct. 15, opening the 21-day window for him to be activated to the 53-man roster. Pierre-Paul has spent all season on the Non-Football Injury list following an offseason car accident.

From TheHuddle

Emmanuel Sanders Oct 15 6:03pm ET

Denver Broncos CB Bryce Callahan (foot) was listed as a non-participant in practice Tuesday, Oct. 15, while CB Duke Dawson (foot), OT Ja'Wuan James (knee) and DE Derek Wolfe (hip) were limited. DE Shelby Harris (ribs), OG Ronald Leary (shoulder), NT Mike Purcell (knee), WR Emmanuel Sanders (knee) and S Will Parks (wrist) were listed as full participants. All of Tuesday's listings were estimates, as Denver held a walk-through as opposed to a formal practice.

From TheHuddle

Sammy Watkins Oct 15 5:53pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs OT Eric Fisher (groin), CB Kendall Fuller (thumb), DT Chris Jones (groin) and OG Andrew Wylie (ankle) did not practice Tuesday, Oct. 15. WR Sammy Watkins (hamstring) was limited. OT Cameron Erving (groin), LB Anthony Hitchens (groin), DT Derrick Nnadi (elbow), LB Dorian O'Daniel (hamstring), OG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (ankle), WR Tyreek Hill (shoulder), QB Patrick Mahomes (ankle) and FB Anthony Sherman (shoulder) fully participated in practice.

From TheHuddle

Cody Kessler Oct 15 5:33pm ET

New England Patriots QB Cody Kessler was released Tuesday, Oct. 15.

From TheHuddle

P.J. Williams Oct 15 5:23pm ET

New Orleans Saints CB P.J. Williams was suspended for two games on Tuesday, Oct. 15, for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. He is eligible to return in Week 8 against the Arizona Cardinals.

From TheHuddle

Michael Burton Oct 15 5:23pm ET

Washington Redskins TE Jerome Cunningham (undisclosed) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Tuesday, Oct. 15. FB Michael Burton was signed to fill his spot on the roster.

From TheHuddle

Marcus Peters Oct 15 4:43pm ET

Los Angeles Rams CB Marcus Peters was traded to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for LB Kenny Young and an undisclosed 2020 draft pick on Tuesday, Oct. 15.

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Josh Ferguson Oct 15 4:13pm ET

Free-agent RB Josh Ferguson worked out for the Washington Redskins on Tuesday, Oct. 15.

From TheHuddle

Chris Thompson Oct 15 4:03pm ET

Washington Redskins RB Chris Thompson (toe) was diagnosed with a mild case of turf toe and his availability for Week 7 is 'in some doubt,' according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Fantasy Spin: It couldn't be much worse timing for fantasy owners or the Redskins, as they are about ready to start a three-game stretch leading into the team's Week 10 in which Thompson figured to be quite busy. Wendell Smallwood is the most likely candidate to pick up the majority of snaps in the passing game if Thompson can't go, and he would be worth a flex play for however long Thompson needs to recover if that ends up being the case.

From TheHuddle