Pine Belt To Pay $500,000 To Name Ritacco Arena

Poland Springs contract up; Pine Belt's five-year contract awarded at price lower than previous $2 million water bottler paid.

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.

Martin June 22, 2011 at 01:25 AM
All hail the PBAG Arena!
Simon Larano June 22, 2011 at 03:09 AM
Something like Pine Belt Place or Pine Belt Center would have sounded better.
ZeroHedge June 22, 2011 at 04:00 AM
No wonder they didnt get any bids, who wants to be associated with a crook.......how do they plan on making up that $1.5 Million !
Paul E Taylor Jr June 22, 2011 at 09:05 AM
I might be in the minority here, but seems to me that Ritacco made a better deal with Poland Springs than the new admin has done. It seemed that everything Mike touched, turned to gold. He was a brilliant administrator. Did anyone notice that others indicted with him have been indicted on other charges that he is not involved with? Could be that the charges against Ritacco could be sour grapes, a way to get "even". The "Cafe" has earned the school district millions over the years, funds that will further technology in the district. Time for the lynch mob to sit down and wait for the trial, you might be surprised at what comes out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Billabong June 22, 2011 at 12:52 PM
It absolutely boggles the mind at how many people are still drunk with the Mike Ritacco Kool Aid. When the FBI raids your house and when you pay an excessive salary to a cafe worker - those are hardly "golden" situations. Sure, the Poland Springs deal was better - that was 5 years ago when the economy had not yet completely tanked. Five years ago everyone was seeing higher advertising income. So Ritacco could cut a deal (and he may need that skill when dealing with the FBI). Plenty of crooks in prison can cut deals (I bet the Wilpon family thought Bernie Madoff could work magic). We'll see what comes from it all but it's amazing how many people still think that Ritacco can do no wrong.
Mike L June 22, 2011 at 01:09 PM
I wonder what the sign is going to cost us?........now the hundred thousand for the first year doesn't seem as good........couldn't they have left it alone with no name, we are still paying for the building in OUR taxes. And notice all the BIG Stars dying to perform there........................
Barry Fleckmann June 22, 2011 at 01:45 PM
...how do they plan on making up that $1.5 million?" Next year, Pine Belt is going to organize and run a festival, on the High School North campus, and they're going to call it Toms RiverFest. They're going to use school buses (free of charge!) and school teachers (free of charge, too). All the proceeds will go to a bank down in Florida...wait a minute...Mike Ritacco ALREADY used that one! Oh, well, back to the drawing board!!
Jennifer OGrady June 22, 2011 at 01:49 PM
Wow, $500,000 to put their name on an arena?? And yet they couldnt "afford" to pay me more then 10.00 and hour. What a bunch of propaganda. Pine Belt Auto Group should be ashamed of themselves. I hope the hourly employees still there question the bank account now and demand more money. Count me in as one person who will not be stepping foot in this arena, even if God himself were performing there.
ZeroHedge June 22, 2011 at 02:08 PM
you read the article or try and understand what the letters in the words mean when put together......it was $400,000 per year for 5 years , which equals the $2 million AND $700,000 a year additional in advertising.......so yes they will have to make up $300,000 a year and $1.5 million over the 5 year contract
Lori June 22, 2011 at 02:32 PM
ZEROHEAD that money STILL WOULD NOT be included in the 2011-2012 school budget!!!!! The contract ended in June. So the budget would have (should have) been planned without that money. I was talking about 400,000 and 700,000 does not equal 1.5 million not that 400,000 over 5 years did not equal 2 million. Technically they need to make up 300,00 yearly not 1.5 million yearly. Several people were making it sould like they needed to make up the entire 1.5 million per year. Considering "no one was interested in the naming rights" people should be happy they even got the 100,000 per year. Something is always better than nothing.
Ken G June 22, 2011 at 05:37 PM
"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." So.....lemme get this straight. Pine Belt, bought the rights....but cant affored a sign?
MikefromTR June 22, 2011 at 10:06 PM
They're paying 100K a year to put their name on a building that doesn't hold any significant events AND will forever be known in the public as the Ritacco Center? Change the name all you want, it's still the Ritacco Center.
ChromeDreams June 23, 2011 at 12:08 AM
Considering the circumstances, ie the economy, the Ritacco connection, etc. I think Mr. Doering and the board got about as good a deal as could be expected. No one made an offer either time the bid process was publicly posted. $500,000 is better than ZERO! Unfortunately, the arena will be remembered (as Mike V correctly points out) as the Ritacco Center for many more years to come.
Martin June 23, 2011 at 12:28 PM
PBAG... Is that something to do with a colostomy?
Martin June 23, 2011 at 12:33 PM
Have the high school woodshop class make a cheap sign sign and glue it over Ritacco's neon thing. (Pine would be appropriate for Pine Belt.) Minimal cost to taxpayers! Then watch how fast the car dealer agrees to pay for its own sign.


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