The Tri-City Americans hockey team has a new billion-dollar fan.
Gesa Credit Union and the Western Hockey League franchise announced Monday that Gesa is the team’s new official credit union.
Gesa, which has nearly $1.6 billion in assets, is the second financial institution to join the team’s long list of supporters. Portland-based Umpqua Bank is a major sponsor, as well.
Under terms of the deal, Gesa will issue a red Americans-themed Visa debit card to customers. It also will donate $2 to the Americans’ Players Education Fund for every goal saved during a game.
135,000 Gesa members
16branches in Eastern Washington
The partnership generated an $84 contribution Sunday when the Americans recorded 42 saves during a 5-4 overtime loss to the Portland Winterhawks.
The Americans debit card is the fourth in a growing line of partner cards for Gesa.
In September, Gesa began issuing branded debit cards to support three Kennewick high schools, Kennewick, Kamiakin and Southridge. Officials couldn’t say how many school-branded cards have been issued, citing confidentiality issues. The district and credit union will announce the financial results of that partnership at the end of the 2015-16 school year.
Richard Waddle, Gesa’s senior vice president for marketing and finance, said it took about six months to negotiate the sponsorship deal with the Americans. Unlike the school program, the cards will not generate funds for the team. They will function exactly like traditional debit cards.
Rather, Waddle said the partnership reflects the credit union’s ongoing commitment to support family friendly entertainment.
Our partnership gives Americans’ fans another opportunity to show their team spirit every time they make a purchase.
Don Miller, Gesa president and CEO
“Our partnership gives Americans’ fans another opportunity to show their team spirit every time they make a purchase,” said Don Miller, president and CEO of Gesa.
Gesa confirmed it plans to add more branded debit cards, though it declined to identify its future partners. The partnership with Kennewick schools generated considerable interest in extending the concept to surrounding school districts, including Richland and Pasco.
Waddle said the program is restricted to debit cards and not credit because of their ubiquity.
“Most everyone has a debit card so we thought it would be the perfect card,” he said.
Most everyone has a debit card so we thought it would be the perfect card.
Richard Waddle, Gesa senior vice president
Kennewick-based Gesa, which is chartered by the Washington Department of Financial Institutions, is federally insured through the National Credit Union Administration. It serves 135,000 members and operates 16 branches in Eastern Washington, including nine in the Tri-Cities. It employs nearly 400.
Membership is open to anyone who lives or works in Washington state.
Officials said new and existing customers can sign up for the distinctive vertical cards at any branch.
Wendy Culverwell: 509-582-1514, @WendyCulverwell