The Jacksonville City Council Finance Committee reported favorably a bill that would allow VyStar to sponsor the local arena.
The bill (2019-95) had nine co-sponsors as of Friday, and was introduced at the request of Mayor Lenny Curry.
In another sign of the executive branch’s interest, Finance Chair Greg Anderson noted that the administration wanted this bill up first in the agenda.
Finance was the sole committee stop before full Council deliberation next week.
VyStar would agree to a $525,000 sponsorship fee annually for the next fifteen years, with a three percent escalator to a final payment of $794,110 in 2033.
Ten percent of that sum would go to a trust fund, and VyStar would also contribute up to $180,000 in cash and considerations for various other veterans’ initiatives, including luncheons and a concession donation match fund.
All told, VyStar would be responsible for $9,76 million in hard costs.
Council President Aaron Bowman, former commander of Mayport who helped broker the deal, offered an amendment, the beginning of what eventually would be a Finance substitute for the bill.
Chief of Staff Brian Hughes noted the amendment offers “tweaks,” including having the Veterans’ Council of Duval County serve as “the recommenders of the trust fund.”
This council has 46 constituent groups, and representatives of the group expressed confidence that the integrity of the name would be maintained.
Even veterans who have been outspoken in critique of the city’s policy toward veterans spoke in support of the legislation.
Noting “controversy in the past” about naming deals, Hughes asserted that VyStar is a “willing partner” to “append their brand” to the arena, rather than seeking to obliterate its identity.
Concerns in public comment included the prominence of the VyStar brand name in signage, and the potential for sponsorship deals for other public edifices, including City Hall.
Councilman John Crescimbeni ensured that the Downtown Design Review Board would have to approve the signage, a matter within its purview typically.
“It’s going to DDRB. No questions asked,” COS Hughes asserted.
Bowman, though not on Finance, voted on the bill to make it an 8-0 vote.
“I’m excited about this,” Bowman said.