Advertisement

Hospital chain Dignity Health buys naming rights to Carson's StubHub Center

Hospital chain Dignity Health buys naming rights to Carson's StubHub Center
The StubHub Center in Carson, shown during a September game between the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers, is the permanent home of the L.A. Galaxy soccer team and the temporary home of the Chargers. The stadium is to be renamed Dignity Health Sports Park. (K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)

The home of the Los Angeles Galaxy soccer franchise will get its third name next season since opening just 15 years ago.

Hospital operator Dignity Health will take over naming rights of the StubHub Center in a 10-year deal announced Thursday with stadium owner AEG. The stadium will now be called the Dignity Health Sports Park.

Advertisement

The Carson complex, which opened in 2003, was called the Home Depot Center until 2013, when a deal with the home-improvement chain expired. It then signed a shorter, six-year pact with StubHub, an online ticket exchange company owned by EBay.

The complex, on the campus of Cal State Dominguez Hills, is best known for its Major League Soccer stadium, but also includes tennis, cycling and track and field venues.

The center is home to the L.A. Galaxy soccer franchise, which also is owned by AEG, a Los Angeles-based sports and entertainment business owned by Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz. And since 2017, it has temporarily hosted home games for the NFL’s Los Angeles Chargers, who will move to a new Inglewood stadium after the 2019 season.

Dignity operates 41 hospitals in Arizona, Nevada and California, including California Hospital Medical Center in downtown Los Angeles, St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach and Glendale Memorial.

The San Francisco not-for-profit firm, formerly known as Catholic Healthcare West, is in the process of merging with another hospital operator, Catholic Health Initiatives of Englewood, Colo.

The two companies plan to combine under the name CommonSpirit Health, though they will continue to use the Dignity Health name, said Julie Sprengel, Dignity’s senior vice president overseeing Southern California operations.

Sprengel and AEG executive Nick Baker declined to disclose financial terms, but noted that the agreement includes more than just naming rights — which is something AEG also got with its StubHub deal.

That expiring agreement had made StubHub the official secondary ticket market for the Galaxy. The rapid pace of change in the ticketing industry necessitated a relatively short naming-rights deal. Such deals typically last 10 to 20 years.

“Ticketing evolves by the hour. Six years in that industry is a significant amount of time,” Baker said.

Dignity will provide first-aid services at the complex, operate a health clinic during the Galaxy’s season and sponsor Galaxy youth programs. Galaxy players will make regular visits to Dignity hospitals.

Sprengel said Dignity talked to other venue owners about naming-rights deals, but closed with AEG in large part because of partnerships such as those.

“AEG was not the first organization we spoke to,” she said. “We walked away from other opportunities because it was all about money and who could get the most dollar from us. That’s not what we were looking for.”

The new naming-rights deal comes at a turbulent time for the Galaxy, which remains the sports complex’s marquee tenant, but has seen its star diminish in recent years.

The franchise’s signing of British soccer superstar David Beckham in 2007 sharply raised the profile of Major League Soccer in the United States, and the Galaxy has won more games and more championships — five — than any MLS franchise in the league’s 23-year history.

Advertisement

But the team is in the middle of a front-office reshuffle after a disappointing two-year stretch. The club missed the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, a poor showing for a franchise that qualified in 18 of the league’s first 21 seasons and features international star Zlatan Ibrahimović on its current roster.

The Galaxy also had been L.A.’s only MLS franchise since 2014, when Chivas USA, which also played home games at StubHub Center, disbanded.

But this year, the Galaxy got a new crosstown rival in Los Angeles Football Club, or LAFC, which plays in a new stadium in Exposition Park. LAFC drew an average of more than 22,000 attendees to home games this year, making it MLS’ 8th highest-drawing club. The Galaxy came in at No 4.

Still, despite their recent woes, the Galaxy still draw big crowds and interest in MLS continues to grow.

Average attendance at Galaxy home games this year was 24,444, up 10% from the previous year, but down about 3% from 2016. The team in 2012 signed a 10-year, $44-million sponsorship extension with downtown L.A. supplement-marketing firm Herbalife, which has had its name on the front of Galaxy jerseys since 2007.

Terms of the Dignity Health deal were not disclosed, though other teams — notably LAFC — have made big bucks from their stadium naming-rights deals. More than a year before playing its first league match, LAFC inked a 15-year, $100-million stadium naming-rights deal with Orange County lender Banc of California.

Advertisement
Advertisement