COLLEGE PARK - The University of Maryland's athletic department has gained a new corporate partner in Nextel Communications.
Nextel and Maryland yesterday announced a 10-year agreement in which Nextel will become the official wireless communications sponsor for athletics on the College Park campus.
The company will invest $6.7 million over the agreement's duration. Nextel will get extensive visibility within the new Comcast Center, the future home of the school's men's and women's basketball teams, and in Byrd Stadium, where the football and men's lacrosse teams play.
"This is a special day for us," said Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow, who added that three more major sponsorship agreements would be announced in the coming weeks. "This is the largest marketing partnership ever created for Maryland athletics, outside of the Comcast Center naming rights agreement."
The 17,100-seat Comcast Center, under construction on the northeast side of the campus since June, is scheduled to open in the fall of 2002.
"We consider this a strategic business alliance," said Bob Johnson, president of Nextel in the mid-Atlantic area and a 1980 graduate of Maryland. Nextel's headquarters are in Reston, Va.
"I'm excited that Bob is the person who made this possible for us," said Terps men's basketball coach Gary Williams. "When you have Maryland people like that, it gives you a thrill to know that people at the top of their game like Bob are behind you."