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Lithia Motors inks naming rights for Medford sports park

Mail Tribune/file photo Lithia Motors has signed a five-year, $725,000 agreement with the city of Medford to rechristen the sports park to Lithia & Driveway Fields.

The name of one of the region’s largest employers could soon adorn Medford’s 132 acre sports park.

Lithia Motors, Inc. has signed a five-year naming rights agreement with the city of Medford to rechristen U.S. Cellular Community Park as “Lithia & Driveway Fields” starting Jan. 1.

The Medford Parks and Recreation Commission will discuss the proposal valued at $725,000 at its meeting to be held virtually via Microsoft Teams at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to the meeting agenda.

Driveway is Lithia’s new app- and online-focused car retailer intended to compete with Tempe, Arizona-based Carvana.

Name and logo changes are allowed upon approval from the city, and provided that the company pays all costs and expenses incurred in implementing the name change, according to the agreement signed by Lithia Chief Legal Officer David Stork.

The city has not yet signed the agreement. Once approved by the Parks and Recreation Commission, the agreement would go to Medford City Council to greenlight the naming rights to the 15-field park at 300 Lowry Lane.

The agreement includes $95,000 per year from the Medford-based auto retailer to “accelerate ongoing turf replacement efforts,” according to a news release issued Monday by the city.

When the park opened in May of 2008, it was the “largest municipal installation of FieldTurf in the United States with nearly 1.5 million square feet of synthetic grass,” according to the park’s 2020 annual report.

Lithia will also provide another $50,000 per year worth of in-kind advertising and marketing resources from the company “to improve signage and to enhance the park’s identity as a regional sports destination.”

U.S. Cellular paid $650,000 for the park’s naming rights in 2007, which at the time was “the largest naming-rights agreement for a municipal recreational facility in Oregon history,” the report states.

The naming agreement with the wireless provider expired in May. In the press release, U.S. Cellular northwest region Vice President Anthony Carlson called the naming rights sponsorship “an honor” and wished Medford and the park “continued success in the future.”

The park has hosted more than 550 tournaments and 55,000 games since it opened in May 2008. Based on those numbers, the city estimates that the park has generated more than $125 million in economic impact and has helped establish Medford as a “West Coast hub for soccer, baseball and softball.”

Reach web editor Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTwebeditor.