Center ice at Amalie Arena reflects the arena's new name.

As part of a strategic plan to place a greater focus on its brand, locally based Amalie Oil Company has entered into a long-term partnership with Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment to give the motor oils and industrial lubricants manufacturer naming rights to the downtown Tampa home arena of more than 100 events per year, including the home games of the NHL Tampa Bay Lightning and arena football Tampa Bay Storm. The deal was effective immediately, Sept. 3.

The Amalie Arena was previously known as the Tampa Bay Times Forum, and the local newspaper will keep a presence at the venue with naming rights to one of the arena’s two club level hospitality lofts, interior and exterior signs and more. It is actually a reversal of roles, as Amalie had a previous presence at the 19,204-seat venue with naming rights to the arena football field since 2011.

“Amalie has been a relative unknown, but as part of its new business planning, it intends on greater distribution (including oil change centers) under its own brand, especially in Florida and the southeastern United States,” said Bill Wickett, executive vice president, marketing and communications, Tampa Bay Lightning at Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment. “The naming rights deal enables Amalie to further establish its brand.”

Harry Barkett, Amalie president and chief executive officer and one of the four Barkett brothers who owns and operates the company, agreed with Wickett’s assessment. 

“Amalie had kind of a quiet presence in the community until now but this sponsorship will allow us to make a loud noise as it relates to Amalie Motor Oil,” he said.

As part of the four-year private agreement in which both sides agreed to keep the specific terms private, Amalie gets visibility, a quality investment in the community, brand recognition and a positive association with a well-respected enterprise in Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment, according to Barkett.

Marshall Advertising helped on the deal as an agent for Amalie Oil, while President Steve Griggs and Senior Vice President Bill Abercrombie worked on the deal for Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment. The arena is owned by Hillsborough County, but Lightning and Storm owner Jeff Vinik owns the long-term lease-hold rights to the facility that opened in 1996 as the Ice Palace. As part of that agreement, Vinik’s company, Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment, has the ability to sell naming rights.

“Amalie will have a suite for all events, a sponsor quad opportunity on the promenade level and plenty of activation, along with great signage opportunities outside the arena,” Wickett said.

Signage is currently in the process of being changed at Amalie Arena.

He added that the name change has already taken effect with the arena website now “Email addresses have been changed and the signage conversion is underway,” Wickett said. “Conversion costs were negotiated as part of the overall contract and will remain private.”

After spending 12 years as the naming rights partner for the arena, Tampa Bay Times has elected to reduce its partnership role but remains a major partner at the venue, specifically as the exclusive print sponsor at Amalie Arena. In addition to the naming rights to one of the arena’s two club level hospitality lofts and interior and exterior signage, the newspaper will enjoy full LED and game presentation along with extensive community and hospitality functions.

Tampa Bay Times purchased the naming rights in 2002 as a way to help reinforce the paper’s position as the newspaper for all of Tampa Bay. To that end, Paul Tash, chairman and CEO of the paper, said that the return on investment was more than met.

“We received superb value out of the deal,” he said. “Putting our name on the Forum helped the St. Pete Times connect with new customers, and then helped establish the Tampa Bay Times as our new name. Those business goals have been met.”

Tash said that Sunday circulation for Hillsborough and suburban Pasco more than tripled between 2002 and 2013. “Additionally, we received tremendous brand recognition – including more than $1.3 million in media exposure during the Republican National Convention in August 2012,” he said.

Wickett said he looks forward to continuing the relationship with Tampa Bay Times.

“They remain one of the organization’s Championship partners – one of its top five sponsors,” Wickett said. “Amalie was ready to take on an expanded role with us and the Times liked the idea of taking a step back after achieving its business goals as the naming rights partner. The timing was perfect for everyone.”

Interviewed for this article: Bill Wickett, (813) 301-6875; Harry Barkett, (813) 961-8388; Paul Tash, (727) 893-8887