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Kia Nabs Naming Rights to Los Angeles Forum

A tribute to the late Los
Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

UPDATE: The official announcement for the renaming of the Forum to the Kia Forum was made on April 4, along with new details and commentary from Kia America and the Kia Forum.

Kia’s partnership with the Kia Forum will include new outdoor and indoor signage, the installation of EV charging stations, and Kia vehicle displays beginning with the EV6. Also coming soon is the establishment of the “Kia Club,” an exclusive hospitality lounge for the enjoyment of automotive enthusiasts and music fans.

“Kia America is proud of our history in Southern California going back to the establishment of our US Headquarters here in 1992, and so we all celebrate now being part of one of the most historic, and emotionally-connected live entertainment and sports venues in California – if not the world,” said Russell Wager, vice president of marketing at Kia America. “We are thrilled to be a part of the entertainment and excitement of live music and events at the Kia Forum moving forward.”

“We’re proud to partner with Kia and weave together our history with an innovative future, while continuing our dedication to the SoCal community,” said Geni Lincoln, GM and SVP Live Event at the Kia Forum. “We look forward to merging the entertainment and automotive industries, broadening our mutual commitments to diversity, sustainability, and creativity.”

PREVIOUSLY: Kia has signed a naming rights deal with The Forum, the popular Los Angeles concert venue purchased in 2020 by Clippers owner Steve Ballmer. The news was first reported by our sister site, Sportico.

A Kia Forum sign was in place outside the Inglewood arena as of Thursday morning. Details of the partnership weren’t immediately apparent, nor was it clear if the venue would continue to be “presented by Chase,” a holdover from when the building was owned by Madison Square Garden Entertainment.

The former home of the Los Angeles Lakers and Kings, The Forum has become an extremely popular and lucrative concert venue in the country’s second-largest market. Upcoming shows at the arena include Justin Bieber, Billie Eilish, Pearl Jam and an AEW wrestling event.

Ballmer purchased The Forum two years ago for a reported $400 million. Bolstered by good acoustics and an open calendar without a resident sports team, the 17,800-seat venue was the second-highest grossing arena in the U.S. for touring events and festivals in 2019, according to Billboard, trailing only Madison Square Garden. The Forum’s pre-pandemic 12-month gross, as of September 2019, was $104.9 million.

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Courtesy of Sportico

The news comes just a few months after Staples Center, the current home of the Lakers, Kings and Clippers, was renamed Crypto.com Arena in a 20-year naming rights deal worth a reported $700 million. The economics will vary for venues that aren’t routinely hosting televised events—much of the value for naming rights to an NBA arena, for example, is the fact that name gets mentioned during 82 popular televised events each year.

It’s also unclear how long the Kia deal runs, a detail that might shed some light on Ballmer’s plans for the venue. The Clippers recently broke ground on a brand new $1.8 billion arena around the corner from The Forum, and it’s unclear if Ballmer would opt to have the two competing for similar acts once the Intuit Dome opens in 2024.

Asked in September about The Forum, Ballmer told Sportico that it was too soon to make a decision about its future, but said between the two venues, he expects his Inglewood arenas to be hosting more than 100 non-basketball events per year.

Kia’s sports sponsorship portfolio includes FIFA, the Australian Open, Rafael Nadal and the NBA. It also has naming rights to the Kia Arena, an open-air tennis venue that is part of Melbourne Park, host of the Australian Open.