Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and VyStar Credit Union President/CEO Brian E. Wolfburg announced an agreement worth more than $9.76 million Thursday to rename the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.
If the City Council approves, it would be renamed the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena.
Under the terms of the proposal, the city would receive $525,000 in 2019, with the annual amount escalating year through 2033 to $794,100, according to a copy of the agreement provided to WJCT News by the mayor's office.
The deal also includes a provision for VyStar to make a one-time $50,000 contribution to be used to develop a new veterans memorial element within the arena or somewhere on the property.
If the city were to land a major league sports team such as an NBA basketball or NHL hockey team, that would trigger a renegotiation of the terms.
“VyStar will be honored to have its name alongside our brave veterans' on the arena. Both of our missions, to serve and recognize our great military, could not be more aligned,” said Wolfburg in a statement emailed to WJCT News.
The proposed deal includes a concessions donation program, which would allow arena patrons to make donations to an approved veterans program when making a purchase at the concessions stands.
The proposal also includes discounts for veterans and VyStar members on concessions, tickets and parking.
Veterans would also be included in ticket presale opportunities, making it possible for them to purchase tickets before public on-sales.
“In coordination with veteran leaders, my staff and VyStar, we have an agreement that is good for taxpayers and at the same time creates new program funding for veterans in our City,” said Curry in a statement.
This isn’t the first time a naming rights deal has been proposed for the arena.
Alan Verlander, the former executive director of sports and entertainment for the city, floated the idea in 2013 to help pay for arena upkeep and maintenance.
Then-Mayor Alvin Brown rejected the idea, saying he wouldn’t support any proposal to add a corporate name to the facility, which was originally built as part of the Better Jacksonville Plan to replace the old Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Coliseum, which was demolished.
VyStar has been aggressively expanding its Jacksonville footprint. Last year it bought the SunTrust tower and is working on plans to move approximately 700 employees into the downtown office building.
VyStar has a long history with the veterans community. It was originally chartered in 1952 at Naval Air Station Jacksonville as a place for military members and their families to save and borrow money.
Formerly known as Jax Navy Federal Credit Union, it changed its name to VyStar Credit Union in 2002 as it opened membership to Jacksonville’s five-county area: Duval, Clay, Nassau, St. Johns, and Baker counties.