FAU business partner pulls out of stadium deal


The FAU Football stadium opened in 2011. FAU still owes around 45 million in debt on the 70 million dollar project. Photo by Michelle Friswell

The FAU Football stadium remains nameless heading into its third football season after a controversial move to name it after a private prison group resulted in national mockery. Now, the group charged with finding a new sponsor to name the stadium informed the UP that it’s no longer doing so.

Sunrise Sports and Entertainment, parent company of the Florida Panthers, was tasked with finding a sponsor after private prison company GEO Group withdrew its $6 million offer to rename the stadium in February 2013. A statement from SSE President and CEO Rory A. Babich says the following:

Sunrise Sports & Entertainment is no longer involved in working on the naming rights for Florida Atlantic University’s football stadium or any other facility associated with FAU.  All naming rights questions should be directed to FAU administration.

Shortly after the deal with GEO Group, petitions were drawn up and protests were held on the FAU campuses by several student advocacy groups. On March 22, 2013, former FAU President Mary Jane Saunders even clipped a student with her vehicle at a protest on FAU’s Jupiter campus. Saunders has since resigned.

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Protestors use signs to voice various issues that they have with the GEO Group. Among them: prison profiteering and sexual abuse allegations. Photo by Max Jackson

Read a full timeline of the events here.

Placed under a microscope by the general public for its questionable practices, GEO Group eventually rescinded the deal with FAU on April 1, 2013.

FAU originally hired Sunrise Sports & Entertainment to book events to take place inside the stadium, according to this press release from FAU. In an interview with the UP in March 2013, Saunders explained that SSE would head the search for a new naming sponsor after the GEO Group pulled out of the deal.

The UP reached out to FAU for comment, but has not received a response as of publication time. Check back for more updates.

Wesley Wright is the Sports Editor of the University Press. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @NotEvenWes.