Today, with ample brouhaha it was announced that Boise State’s famous Bronco Stadium is officially hereforth known as “Albertsons Stadium” courtesy of Albertsons, LLC and a 15-year naming rights deal worth $12.5 million.
Awesome. Not only is this an instant, easy way to make a cool chunk o’ change for the university, the act of selling naming rights can lead to mixed bag results. The US is littered with sporting venues with silly names from selling naming rights… “KFC Yum! Center” in Louisville, KY; “InfoCision Stadium” in Akron, OH; “Overstock.com Coliseum” in Oakland, CA; and, well, “Taco Bell Arena” here in Boise. Albertsons Stadium is comparatively a home run.
The Albertsons grocery store chain was founded in Idaho and has a large, established presence across the country. And the Albertson family has invested and donated so much to the local community, the new name feels right on many levels.
In all the talk of the stadium though, what intrigues me even more is what this could mean for the Albertsons Boise Headquarters.
Back in March, a colossal deal was struck that would merge Boise-based Albertsons and Pleasanton, CA-based Safeway to create the 2nd largest grocery store chain in the world: A Fortune 500-size company with over 250,000 employees and 2,400 stores worldwide. With any merger, it makes sense to not only remove managerial duplication, but also to consolidate offices under as few roofs as possible.
The mammoth question that could mean so much to our local economy: What’s going to happen to the Boise corporate headquarters? It’s unlikely things will stay exactly the same. The lions share of the high paying executive and upper-management jobs will either consolidate in Pleasanton, Boise, or perhaps a new location altogether.
But “Albertsons Stadium” affirms a commitment that likely bodes well for the dream-scenario: That the primary corporate headquarters for Albertsons-Safeway not only remains in Boise, but potentially sees major expansion to accommodate room in managing Safeway operations. Heck, maybe even a new, statement HQ building like what Amazon is doing for downtown Seattle. After all, we’re talking about a gigantic company with total revenues around $55-60 billion per year.
In such a scenario we could see hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of jobs moving from the expensive Bay Area to the Treasure Valley, where cost of living is low, the business climate is extremely friendly, and the quality of life is great (well it’s great in the Bay Area too, depending on how rich you are).
Speaking of jobs, they wouldn’t be the minimum-wage, call-center jobs that Idaho seems to be such a magnet for. Far from it. We’d be looking at Fortune 500 corporate jobs that would be a tremendous boon to the local economy. Growth that would seriously elevate Boise’s economic profile among its peer cities. With a new, much larger and stronger Albertsons calling Boise home along with Micron, Simplot, the fast-growing WinCo, Scentsy, Clearwater Analytics, and many others it becomes really exciting to think of what the future could hold.
Then again, it could be completely opposite. It could be that Albertsons abandons Boise for the Pleasanton, leading to a major loss of middle-upper class jobs and a big setback to what has been a modest economic upswing since the 2008 recession. It would be profoundly unfortunate for the Valley’s hopes of economic recovery. Considering such a negative impact, I hope Idaho’s leaders are rolling out the figurative red carpet and doing whatever they can to keep Albertsons an Idaho-based company.
There’s a great number of things that will influence either outcome. In all likelihood it won’t be as dramatic as I’ve outlined above, it’ll be somewhere in the middle. Ideally in the “more jobs in Boise” side of the middle.
But whatever happens, it makes me feel a little better today seeing that the moniker “Albertsons Stadium” went to the home of the Boise State Broncos, and not the home of, say, the San Jose Earthquakes.