Inside the deal: Proposed Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena naming rights

Jacksonville, FL — The Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena in Downtown could soon become the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, and WOKV is taking an in-depth look at the deal that’s been put forward, which still faces approval by the City Council.

By the numbers

Under this proposed 15-year deal, VyStar would pay a naming rights fee of $525,000 the first year. That fee escalates annually, so that in the final year it reaches $794,110. Across the 15 years, that means a payout of $9,764,430 to the City.

However, under this proposal, 10% of that fee annually will go to a special trust fund that will be created. The City legislation says the “Veterans Memorial Arena Trust Fund” will support veterans programs and initiatives. The legislation says guidelines for who and what will be eligible for that funding will be created by executive order from the Mayor. A Fund committee will also be established- by executive order as well- to administer the fund.

Setting the portion of the fee for the Trust Fund aside, the City would net around $8,787,987 over the 15-year term specifically from the fee. That’s money they say will directly benefit maintenance, improvement, and enhancements at the Arena.

But the City does have some additional costs in the deal.

The City would be responsible for updating interior signage at the Arena to correspond with this name change, with VyStar covering the cost of replacing the large exterior entrance sign and adding a few more. That interior signage includes new branded signs on the Arena scoreboard and three backlit signs on the main concourse, among other things.

Street signs also fall on the City’s dine- they would be committed to changing any road signs that reference the Arena to update them to the new name. They would also be bound to pursue updating any signs that fall under another entities jurisdiction- like a state road- and to pay any cost that is not covered by that entity.

The proposal would also make VyStar Credit Union members using a VyStar debit or credit card, and military veterans with proof of service, eligible for benefits including a 10% discount on concession stand and parking purchases- areas where the City and its venue manager traditionally get revenue. There could be a 10% discount on tickets as well, if the event owner or promoter agrees to the deal.

Other VyStar commitments

With the concessions, this proposal talks about the creation of a concession donation program, which would allow patrons to make donations to an approved veterans program. VyStar would match up to $50,000 from that annually, with a total contribution of up to $750,000 over the 15-year term.

They are also looking at up to $1,200,000 in the 15 years, through commitments to hosting veterans events at the Arena each quarter. They would work with the City in planning those events, and would pay up to $80,000 annually to put them on.

Additionally, VyStar is agreeing to a one-time payment of $50,000 to establish a memorial somewhere in the Arena or on the Arena grounds.

Between the naming rights fee and these three additional initiatives, VyStar would commit $11,764,430 over 15 years, not including the cost of the initial signage installation and other incidentals in the agreement.

In exchange, the naming rights agreement gives them advertising, the first right to purchase a number of tickets for each event, an Executive Suite at the Arena, a suite for ten Jumbo Shrimp baseball games, two Jaguars tailgate cabanas per season, and a private box at the Times Union Center for Performing Arts as requested, pending availability.

Additional terms

There are several other unique elements in this naming rights agreement, including dealing with ATMs at other City-owned facilities. The naming rights agreement gives VyStar the right to operate ATMs at the Arena, Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts, Ritz Theater and Museum, and Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center. VyStar would be responsible for the cost of those ATMs, as well as their maintenance and operation.

VyStar would also now be features as presenting sponsor for the weekly “Jaxevents eblast”.

This naming rights deal actually requires changing a portion of the city’s Municipal Buildings and Offices code as well. One section detailing terms for the naming of public facilities specifically prohibits the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena from carrying the name of any person, company, or other thing as part of the title. The only other two building specifically listed in that section of code bar the Duval County Courthouse and Downtown Jacksonville Public Library from being named for any person.

In this proposal, it says a shortened name for the Arena could be used in ads or promotions that are limited in word count or space. It offers “VyStar Veterans Arena” as an example of the shortened name, but does not rule out other options.

The naming rights agreement further allows VyStar to request a name change for the Arena once over the term of the deal. There are requirements around what they can do, and the change would ultimately still need approval by the City Council. This is similar to the deal that led to the rebranding of EverBank Field to TIAA Bank Field, where the company involved in the naming rights agreement would cover those costs.

What comes next

There has been push back in the past on any name change for the venue, so we’ll see what the next few weeks will hold, as the City Council now starts to vet and ultimately vote on the deal.

What do you think of the proposed change? Weigh in on Facebook:

The VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena? I have a deep dive in to a new $11.7 million naming rights proposal, including the...

Posted by Stephanie Brown, News 104.5 WOKV on Thursday, February 7, 2019

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