Tampa, Florida - Say goodbye to the Tampa Bay Times Forum and hello to Amalie Arena.
Jeff Vinik -- the owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Bay Storm arena football team, and Channelside Bay Plaza -- and Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment, LLC has a new partnership with Amalie Oil. The company has made a multi-year deal for the naming rights to the arena.
"From now, on this building will be known as Amalie Arena," says Vinik.
The arena's been known as the Forum for a dozen years. Vinik himself is getting used to the new name change.
"We believe in partnering with great brands, and that's true here at the Forum... excuse me, The Amalie Arena. It'll take a little time, let's be fair."
Amalie Oil is headquartered in Tampa at the port, and has been a sponsor of the Storm. The company already has naming rights on the arena football team's field, but wanted more brand recognition in the community.
"I would venture to say that most people, especially in the Tampa Bay area, even though we're located here and have been here for many, many years have no clue who Amalie is. The one benefit we'll hopefully get out of this is to become a better-known company," says Amalie Oil Company President and CEO Harry Barkett. "We're in this community. We want to be a part of this community, and we think this is probably the quickest possible way for us to accomplish that. We're just thrilled to death were able to pull this off."
This is the latest piece of Vinik's vision for a vibrant downtown. Last month, he won the battle for the bankrupt Channelside Plaza. Vinik expects another big announcement about that very soon.
"Hotels, office buildings to restaurants... it's pretty much everything. We're open-minded and trying to make a big difference. It's a big area. We have 25+ acres and can make a big difference," says Vinik.
On Wednesday evening the signs outside of the arena still say "Tampa Bay Times Forum." Vinik tells 10 News that should be changing soon.
The Times had a deal for naming rights until 2018, and it insists you'll still see it's name as a sponsor inside of the Arena.
Amalie's CEO says the Lightning approached him about the deal, although neither side will reveal a price tag.
A brief look at Amalie Oil:
Founded in 1903, Amalie Oil Company has been located on 29 acres in the Port of Tampa since 1977, employing 250 local residents, supplying motor oil and industrial lubricants to international oil companies, automotive retailers, distributors and mass merchandisers and private label customers in 50 states and more than 100 countries.
Vinik says he personally wants to see a successful downtown.
"We want a thriving downtown. First of all, it's important to the Tampa Bay Lightning to have an active thriving region around here. It's good for the Lightning, it's good for the city, and good for the region as a whole. Frankly, it sounds corny, but I turned over 50 years old. As an owner of a sports team, it's my responsibility. And I see the opportunity to make a difference in the community," Vinik says.
Here is more on Jeff Vinik and his plans for downtown Tampa: