JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville’s city council has unanimously agreed to move forward with the renaming of the Jacksonville Veteran’s Memorial Arena, calling it Vystar Veteran’s Memorial Arena. It’s a multi-million dollar agreement.
At the city council meeting Tuesday, veterans and veteran supporters made public comments, lasting about two hours. They wanted the city to increase the amount veterans programs would get from the agreement.
“Up until tonight there was never any conversation about the money that was being generated and how it was going to be used,” said Blake Harper, who was in attendance and made a comment.
The word “Veterans” is required in the name.
Even though this reverses the 2002 ordinance that banned adding the name of any company or person’s name to the arena, Councilman Aaron Bowman, a Navy vet, said VyStar is the right company for the agreement because the company was founded to serve military members.
Vystar will pay more than $9.7 million through 2034, and the city will set aside 10 percent of those payments for a Veterans Trust Fund, adding up to nearly $1 million. The rest will go to maintaining the property.
Some veterans who made public comments said it's not enough.
The Veterans Council of Duval County will be able to evaluate and make funding recommendations to the Mayor on the use of the trust fund, which will be included in the annual budget.
Anyone who goes to the arena can donate at concession stands to support veteran causes and Vystar will match that by 3%.
Vystar will also contribute $80 thousand a year to cover Veterans events at the arena, and $50 thousand for the city to develop a new veterans memorial on the grounds. Veterans will also get a discount at concessions and events.
“These people, whether they come back and they’re whole and they come back and they’re broken, they have all sacrificed, and so we need to do the proper thing to honor that sacrifice," Harper said.
This contract agreement will last for the next 15 years. VYSTAR will pay for the changing of the signs.