The City of Medford and Lithia & Driveway have crafted a five-year partnership for naming-rights opportunities for the 15-field, 132-acre sports park currently known as U.S. Cellular Community Park.
Subject to City Council approval, the $725,000 agreement with the Medford-based automotive retailer would result in the park name changing to “Lithia & Driveway Fields” on January 1, 2022.
If approved, the City will receive $95,000 annually to accelerate ongoing turf replacement efforts, and $50,000 of in-kind support each year from Lithia’s advertising and marketing resources to improve signage and to enhance the park’s identity as a regional sports destination.
“This is an exciting opportunity to partner with a great community leader in Lithia & Driveway brands,” City Manager Brian Sjothun said. “The partnership will help the City further promote recreational and competitive sports offered for the area and to those who travel to Medford for tournaments and events.”
The City and Lithia will develop a new park logo, and Lithia is responsible for updating the existing large park signs along Interstate 5, South Pacific Highway, and Lowry Lane.
“We’re thrilled to play a key role in promoting local and regional sports in the Rogue Valley, Bryan DeBoer, Lithia & Driveway’s President and CEO said. “The valley is our home base, and this special sponsorship of the sports fields embodies our Lithia 4Kids efforts to provide opportunities for young people in the communities we serve.”
Originally called the Medford Sports and Community Park, U.S. Cellular paid $650,000 in 2007 for park naming rights prior to the construction of 14 synthetic-turf sports fields. The five-field softball/baseball complex opened in 2008, the six-field multi-sport complex opened in 2009, and the final construction phase was completed in 2014. U.S. Cellular held naming rights through May 2021.
“It’s been an honor working with the City of Medford on the naming rights sponsorship over the years, and we wish the City and the Park continued success in the future,” U.S. Cellular northwest region vice president Anthony Carlson said.
Since May 2008, over 550 tournaments and 55,000 games have been played at the sports park featuring 18,000 teams, generating in excess of $125 million in estimated economic impact, and establishing Medford as a West Coast hub for soccer, baseball and softball.
“In addition to honoring our local roots, this partnership with the city also ensures the park will continue to make a positive economic impact for local businesses by bringing a diverse group of users into the area where they can enjoy sports activities, as well as the educational benefits of the Coyote Trails School of Nature,” DeBoer said.
The partnership is the latest collaboration between Lithia and the City. The entities partnered on the development of Pear Blossom and Liberty parks as part of The Commons downtown Medford mixed-use urban renewal project, and Lithia has been the title sponsor of the annual downtown Winter Lights Festival since its inception in 2014.
Founded in 1946, Lithia & Driveway is a Fortune 500 company operating 280 dealerships in the U.S. and Canada. In 2020, the nation’s second-largest auto retailer launched Driveway.com, an e-commerce platform for buying, selling, trading and financing cars.