A rendering shows Enmarket branding on the arena, which will be home to concerts and an ECHL hockey team. (Courtesy OVG)
New 9,500-seat arena set to open in January
Enmarket, a chain of convenience stores in the Southeast, has signed a naming rights deal for the new arena in Savannah, Georgia.
The agreement for Enmarket Arena, the official name of the venue, spans 15 years with a total value of $12 million to $15 million, industry sources said. Annual payments are around $850,000, with escalator clauses that kick in over the life of the deal.
The deal was to be announced Tuesday afternoon at a news conference in Savannah.
The 9,500-seat venue is scheduled to open in January and will be run by Oak View Group Facilities. OVG Global Partnerships sold the naming rights on behalf of the city. It’s a $165 million project, all publicly funded. (OVG also owns VenuesNow and Pollstar).
The arena, designed by Perkins & Will and built by AECOM Hunt, will be home to an ECHL expansion team plus concerts and other special events. The hockey team has yet to be named.
Enmarket was founded in 1964 by Robert Demere as Interstate Stations in Savannah. In 1990, the company was rebranded as Enmark. The company has 129 locations in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
Its business extends to gasoline, oil and tobacco products, plus a car washing operation. The company is a subsidiary of Colonial Group, whose origins date to 1921, when it was founded by Robert’s father, Raymond Demere, as American Oil Co. in Savannah.
The Demere family still runs Colonial Group and Enmarket. Christian B. Demere, Raymond’s great-grandson, is the family’s fourth-generation president of the parent firm.
Enmarket is entrenched in Savannah, and the deal falls in line with the company’s commitment to the community, said Dan Griffis, president of OVG Global Partnerships.
For the past few years, Enmarket has served as title sponsor of the Savannah Hockey Classic, a college hockey tournament featuring Georgia, Georgia Tech, Florida and Florida State.
In January 2023, the event will move to the new arena from the Savannah Civic Center.
Enmarket also sponsors the annual Savannah Bridge Run, which draws 5,000 runners in early December.
The company promotes health awareness through a series of educational presentations and events tied to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Enmarket was part of the naming rights discussion early in the process. Brett Giesick, the company’s president, and Matt Clements, vice president of marketing, were bullish on the deal and “rode this thing to the end,” Griffis said.
“The deal aligns with what they are looking for as a community hub, as most naming rights agreements are, where lots of positive memories are created,” he said. “They really like being associated with that kind of venue.”
As part of the naming rights activation, Enmark will have a few branded grab-and-go locations inside the arena for fans to quickly buy food and drink before returning to their seats, Griffis said.
In addition, Enmarket will run discount ticket and merchandise promotions for its loyalty program customers and provide tickets and hospitality as part of employee recognition initiatives, Griffis said.
The company’s brand will be embedded at center ice for ECHL games, as well as on a sign on the arena exterior.
Savannah is a prime tourist destination in the Southeast, and the new arena is expected to draw touring acts that up to now have skipped the secondary market to play other cities, Griffis said.
The city is also home to Gulfstream Aerospace, which produces private luxury aircraft for a number of touring acts and celebrities. Griffis sees an opportunity for artists that want to get their planes serviced to fly to town, stay overnight and play the arena.
“My guess is there will be a bunch of artists that take advantage of that scenario,” Griffis said.