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Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena could soon have VyStar in its name
Florida Times-Union - 2/8/2019
Feb. 08--Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena's name would change to VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in a proposal by Mayor Lenny Curry that would reverse a longtime ban on attaching a business to the name of the arena.
Veterans groups staunchly opposed any addition of a business to the arena's name in the past, arguing that would diminish the tribute to veterans. But an announcement Thursday by Curry indicated talks "in coordination with veterans leaders" paved the way for him to file legislation with the City Council on the name change.
The proposed 15-year agreement with VyStar would generate annual funding for both City Hall and for programs assisting veterans.
"This is a win for everyone involved, and I will work with the City Council to earn their approval," Curry said in the announcement.
Steve Spickelmier, president of the Veterans Council of Duval County, declined to comment Thursday on the proposal. He said he will organize a future news conference to give the group's position.
Back in 2002, the City Council enacted an ordinance that said the arena "shall not bear the name of any individual or company or any other thing as part of any title." The council said the building should be known only as "Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena."
The city put that ban on the books at the urging of veterans. Under Curry's proposal, the arena still would have "veterans memorial" in its name.
The proposed agreement with VyStar Credit Union, based in Jacksonville, would generate $9.76 million in naming-right fees for the city over 15 years. The city would put 10 percent of those annual payments into a trust fund that would support veterans programs in Jacksonville, adding up to around $976,000 over the course of the agreement.
In addition to the naming rights fees, VyStar would provide financial support directly to veterans programs.
Fans going to the arena would be able to donate at concession stands in support of veterans causes. VyStar would match those donations in an amount up to $50,000 per year, which would equate to as much as $750,000 through 2033.
VyStar also would contribute up to $80,000 per year to cover the costs of quarterly veterans events at the arena, which would be up to $1.2 million over the 15-year agreement.
VyStar would contribute $50,000 for the city to develop a "new veterans memorial element" in the arena or on the arena grounds.
The agreement would give military veterans and VyStar Credit Union members 10 percent discounts on concession stand and parking purchases. They also would get a 10 percent discount on tickets for events when the promoter agrees to the discount.
VyStar's name on the arena would add to the credit union's growing downtown presence while also highlighting VyStar's long-standing relationship to the military community. The credit union used be to called Jax Navy Federal Credit Union and was chartered in 1952 at Jacksonville Naval Air Station.
VyStar CEO Brian Wolfburg said the credit union "would be honored to have its name alongside our brave veterans on the arena."
"Based on VyStar's deep roots in the military community, past and present, we can't imagine a more suitable naming partnership," he said in a statement released by the city.
VyStar would pay the cost to manufacture and install the signs on the outside of the arena if the City Council approves the name change.
VyStar will be moving its corporate headquarters into downtown. The credit union purchased the SunTrust Tower building in August and will have its name attached to the top of the 23-story building.
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