A strong energy could be felt inside the arena Wednesday as Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik made a surprise announcement.
Amalie Motor Oil, a company that has been in the bay area for more than 100 years, has secured the naming rights to the arena.
The Tampa Bay Times had a contract that ran until 2018.
"The Times is going to remain a major partner with us for the years ahead, but I could not be prouder of this partnership with Amalie," Vinik said.
Vinik knows the company well. It already holds the naming rights for the field where the Tampa Bay Storm plays. Vinik also owns that team.
Paul Tash, CEO and chairman of the Tampa Bay Times, said Vinik approached him and asked if the newspaper would consider being released early from its contract.
"He said, ‘You know there's another company that is interested in putting its name on the building.’ We have fulfilled our purposes. It helped get our name out there," said Tash. "I'm sure the first time when I see another name on the forum I will feel a little wistful, but again, we have achieved our purpose."
"Paul and I have been friends for five years,” Vinik said, “and everything we had done was in full agreement."
Details of the deal have not been disclosed.
But Harry Barkett, one of the four brothers who owns Amalie, said, "All I can tell you is it was that he has a multi-year contract and it was a substantial amount of money.
And a huge commitment on both of our parts. Other than that we're just going to have to keep it private.”
Barkett also said he hoped to see Amalie Arena up soon.
"We don't know how fast we will be able to do it but we're hoping that everything will be up at the end of the month," said Barkett.