Arrowhead (CU) May Move HQ Near Arrowhead (Ballpark)

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Arrowhead Credit Union is negotiating with the City of San Bernardino to purchase property near the baseball stadium that bears its name, credit union officials confirmed.

According to Larry Sharp, Arrowhead's CEO, the credit union intends to build a new operations center on land adjacent to Arrowhead Credit Union Stadium-the home of the Inland Empire 66ers, the single-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners Major League Baseball franchise.

Sharp said the operations center still is in the planning stages, and would not be ready until the first quarter of 2007 at the earliest.

"The purchase has not been finalized, we are working with the city," he explained. "We had been looking to consolidate five or six facilities spread around the area, and when the city offered land by the stadium, we thought that would be a good thing."

If the operations center comes to fruition-it is in the temporary drawings phase, Sharp said -it will host approximately 400 employees in 120,000 square feet of space. Plans are for it to include a call center, data processing, lending, accounting and back-office functions for the $916-million CU, which serves 149,000 members.

Ballpark Name 'A Pretty Good Deal'

If the operations center is built, it would represent a substantial investment by Arrowhead CU in the downtown area here. Prior to the 2002 season, Arrowhead signed a 10-year stadium naming rights agreement with the 66ers and the city of San Bernardino. The 10-year, $750,000 agreement made the credit union the first stadium naming rights sponsor in the long history of the California League.

In addition to its name on the marquee, Arrowhead has the right to set up a booth at all 64 of the 66ers' home games to sign up new members, plus it has a 21-person skybox available for each game.

After three full seasons, Sharp described the investment as money well spent. He said the visibility from the stadium exceeds other forms of advertising.

"The cover of the latest phone book was a picture of Arrowhead Credit Union Park," he said. "Overall, it is a pretty good deal. We couldn't buy that kind of advertising for $75,000 per year. We don't have precise ROI figures, but we could only get three billboards on the 10 Freeway for that money in a year. When you take it in relative terms, we've done very well by it."

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