Goodbye ; hello Pine Belt Auto Group Arena.
Pine Belt has submitted an offer for $500,000 for the naming rights of the, which is on the Toms River High School North campus.
Pine Belt will pay $100,000 each year of a five-year contract for the right for the 3,500-seat arena to bear its name. The Toms River Regional School Board approved the contract at its meeting tonight.
This was after two attempts to solicit bids for the naming rights, said Toms River Regional Business Administrator William Doering. Both a Feb. 23 and a March 23 bidding netted .
After coming back with no one interested in the spring bidding process, the district went out and sought interested parties, Doering said. That no one came forward in the first two attempts was a surprise, Doering said.
"It was very disappointing," Doering said. "It was surprising we came back with nothing. I believe the naming rights are a great opportunity."
Doering said the naming rights contract is likely a result of the economy.
"With the economy being what it is, this is a win-win," Doering said after the board meeting.
The naming rights contract is a five-year contract, for a half million dollars, which is $1.5 million less than the previous contract held by Poland Spring. The district will also bear the cost of replacing and creating the new signage for the arena, Doering said.
"This would be a for a five-year contract and we did not set a floor or minimum bid, although we reserved the right to reject bids if in our best interest to do so (that would include an amount too ridiculously low or if we deemed that a vendor or product was inappropriate for a school facility, etc)," said Doering in an email.
It was 2005 when the Poland Spring bottled water company and Toms River Regional Schools agreed on a $2 million, five-year contract. As the ink dried, reports at the time said it was an unprecedented deal for a New Jersey school district. The deal: Poland Spring would provide $400,000 in yearly payments and $700,000 in annual advertising commitments.
The Pine Belt contract contains no provisions other than the annual cash payment, whereas the Poland Spring contract also included an agreement for bottled water.
"This is nothing as complicated," Doering said. "It is just the annual dollar amount, $100,000."
Pine Belt is an automotive group spanning the towns of , Eatontown and Keyport. That includes Route 37 locations for Cadillac and Nissan dealerships. A Keyport location is a Chevrolet dealership and an Eatontown location is a Nissan dealership.
The arena was built in 2003, and the Toms River Regional Board of Education agreed to name it after then-Superintendent . After 2005, its official title was the Poland Spring Arena at the Michael J. Ritacco Center.
The arena has hosted regional sports tournaments, celebrity acts and large scale conventions and bridal shows since opening.
Doering said the contract for Poland Spring was technically over in June, and in a phone interview recently said he hoped a new naming rights contract would be in place in time for the fall.
The Ritacco name was removed from the building shortly after his resignation and accusing him and former insurance broker in a kickback scheme reaching several million dollars over the years.