Since its opening in 1996, the multi-purpose arena in downtown Tampa has gone through a handful of name changes.
Today, Jeff Vinik, Chairman and Governor of Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment, LLC, announced the fourth incarnation. Amalie Oil Company, North America's largest privately-held independent blender of motor oils and industrial lubricants, has entered into a long-term partnership that includes the naming rights to the arena, which will be known immediately as the Amalie Arena.
“(Amalie has) flown under the radar a little bit, but no longer,” Vinik said.
Located just a short, five-minute boat ride down Sparkman Channel from the arena that will bear its name, Amalie has been in Tampa since 1977 and employs 250 local residents.
“We’ve been looking at a lot of opportunities over the last few years because we do want to become more a part of this community,” said Harry Barkett, Amalie President and Chief Executive Officer and one of four Barkett brothers who own and operate the company. “We market products to all 50 states and about 100 countries throughout the world, but certainly we feel it starts here [in Tampa Bay]. We just don’t feel that we have done enough in the community to get our brand out there and make people more aware of it. That’s our goal in the next few years.”
Founded in 1903, Amalie developed a reputation for high-quality, well-engineered petroleum products. Fifty years later, Amalie was the first oil company to introduce a multi-grade motor oil: Imperial 10W30.
In 1977, Amalie moved to Tampa, where it currently sits on a 30-acre site in the Port of Tampa.
“We’ve been in the Port for a number of years,” Barkett said. “We’ve just been kind of there, kind of behind the wall so to speak. Nobody even knows we’re there, so we’re going to hopefully change all that.”
Amalie has been extensively involved in the motorsports industry, from sponsoring NHRA Top Fuel driver Terry McMillen to backing monster truck owner/driver J.R. McNeal and his truck, Razin Kane. Since 2011, Amalie Oil Company has held the naming rights to the field for the Tampa Bay Storm, also owned by Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment.
Now, the company is making an even bigger leap into the sports industry with a move designed to increase brand awareness not just locally but nationally.
“The exposure you get by participating in sports companies like the Lightning, you have such a wide audience that are watching that,” Barkett said. “Every one of them has a car; every one of them is going to need oil. So, from that standpoint, we’re just thrilled.”
Amalie becomes the second locally-owned, community-minded organization to take over naming rights to the home of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Storm. The Tampa Bay Times, Florida’s largest newspaper and winner of 10 Pulitzer Prizes, secured the naming rights in 2002 and held them for 12 years.
“First, the Forum helped the St. Pete Times connect with thousands of new customers both here in the Tampa Bay area and across the country,” said Paul Tash, chairman and chief executive officer of the Tampa Bay Times. “And then, the Forum helped the Tampa Bay Times unveil its new name and identity and establish those fully, much more quickly than we had even hoped.”
The Tampa Bay Times will continue to be a major partner and the exclusive print partner of the Lightning, the Storm and Amalie Arena.
“We are proud of the relationship we have with the Tampa Bay Times. We are proud that with the new name on this building that we are able to keep it in this community,” Vinik said. “We could have gone national and found a name out there, but this is about the Tampa Bay region, this is about celebrating what’s great in the region, this is about the great companies who make contributions to this region and that’s why we’re so proud to have Amalie Oil on the name of our building.”