With the drop of a curtain, the sign on the rebranded VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena was unveiled Tuesday in a ceremony outside the Downtown sports and entertainment venue.
VyStar and the city reached the 15-year, $9.76 million naming-rights sponsorship deal in February. The Jacksonville-based credit union is paying the city a $525,000 licensing fee the first year to rebrand the arena with its name.
The payment increases 3% per year to $794,110 in 2033.
VyStar — founded in 1952 as Jax Navy Federal Credit Union at Naval Air Station Jacksonville — also will match up to $50,000 annually collected at the arena through a concession veterans’ donation program.
In addition, the credit union will make a one-time $50,000 contribution to a new veterans memorial to be placed in the arena or on its grounds.
“VyStar was founded to support the financial needs of our military servicemen and women, civil service employees and their families. In support of that, we have had a long-standing commitment to sponsoring and participating in various military events, charity and other initiates each year,” said VyStar President and CEO Brian Wolfburg.
“The partnership with the city of Jacksonville helps us solidify that legacy and supports long-term investment in Downtown Jacksonville,” Wolfburg said.
Mayor Lenny Curry said arena attendees can make donations to “an approved” veterans program when they make a concessions purchase.
The agreement makes discounted tickets, concessions and parking available to both veterans and VyStar members. Ticket presale promotions at the arena also will be extended to veterans.
“Ever since the days of the old Veterans Memorial Coliseum, our city has made it a point to highlight the strong connection we have with the armed forces by having a premier Downtown event venue named in honor of those who have served,” Curry said. “We continue to strengthen that commitment right here today.”
The Duval County Veterans Council is partnering with the city and VyStar to manage the donation trust fund.
Duval County Veterans Council 2nd Vice Chairman David Trotti said his organization is finalizing the grant guidelines and plans to begin accepting applications in early January.
“These funds will allow not-for-profit veterans service organizations to apply for grants ranging from $500 to $7,500 annually to provide for our veterans,” he said. “Our veterans understand the mental health crisis that impacts our brothers and sisters in arms, along with the homelessness, employment issues and basic necessities to survive day to day.”
Wolfburg said the remaining arena signage will be installed by the end of October.
VyStar’s investment in the arena is one piece of a larger push the credit union is making Downtown. VyStar bought its 28-story tower at 76 S. Laura St. in July 2018 for $59 million and is moving its headquarters to the space.
Formerly the SunTrust Tower, VyStar rebranded the building with its name in August.