It adds up for Fiserv

Sep 4th 2018

Financial tech company says hometown opportunity with Milwaukee Bucks made sense for its first major play in sports.

The bucks will likely stop with the Bucks.

That seems to be the initial plan for Milwaukee-based financial technical services company Fiserv, which made a huge splash into sports sponsorship last month by announcing its 25-year naming rights deal for the new home of the Bucks. But don’t look for the company to expand its portfolio beyond the newly christened Fiserv Forum any time soon, according to CEO Jeff Yabuki. 

“We saw it as a very unique opportunity with a brand-new arena in our hometown,” he said of the deal announced on July 26. “Right now we are pleased with where we are. We will continue to look at what are the right ways to elevate our brand in the right place over time.”

The company would not disclose the value of the agreement, but sources pegged it to be worth at least $6 million annually.

Fiserv provides technology to banks, merchants and other institutions to conduct electronic financial transactions. The company sees the investment as a way to raise its profile for the large, but relatively obscure business-to-business brand.

“We’ve been around for more than 30 years and we have been on a mission to redefine the company in response to the transformation in the market,” Yabuki said. “We’ve changed the look and feel of our brand. Financial technology is front and center in the digital age. We thought it was an incredible opportunity to elevate our brand and evolve into the next level.”

The deal creates a new, financial technology and payments category for the Bucks, with Fiserv owning exclusivity in the category.

“It was very important to create a category and we will have the opportunity to showcase and display some of our new technologies whether it’s buying a [Bucks] jersey or for paying for a soda,” Yabuki said. “We have an understanding that we will create unique technology experiences and attribute that to the Fiserv brand.”

The company began talking with the Bucks and team President Peter Feigin two years ago, early into the construction of the $524 million arena, which opens this month. Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment represented the company in the deal.

“Fiserv doesn’t fit the profile of a typical naming-rights buyer — they have completely different objectives and operate in a very new category for sports,” said Chris Allphin, Van Wagner senior vice president.

“We needed to make sure it made sense for us,” Yabuki said. “We had to think about whether we were willing to do this for a long period of time. We had to make sure that the parties will be compatible.”