The 15-year-old BI-LO Center has been undergoing interior renovations over the last few months, and the façade will also get an update as the Bon Secours Wellness Arena after a $4.5 million deal with Bon Secours St. Francis Health System announced Wednesday.
Officials announced the naming rights agreement on the floor of the arena, complete with stage, spotlight and a curtain obscuring the new logo. Jeff Gilstrap, chairman of the Arena District board, which oversees the center, said that the board had talked with four or five organizations regarding the naming. Details of the deal with Bon Secours had been worked out over the last five weeks, he said.
Some changes will be immediate, like those to the website, said the arena’s general manager Roger Newton, but signage must be approved by the City of Greenville and should be in place in about eight weeks.
Bon Secours St. Francis CEO Mark Nantz said that the bold partnership aligns with the health system’s mission of ministering to the mind, body and spirit. “It’s a unique opportunity to bring health and wholeness to the community where people live, work and play,” he said. Nantz added that it was the “next step in the partnership with the community.”
Bon Secours staff will be at each arena event, and the health care system is planning new programs and interactive spaces within the facility, said Nantz. This goes a step beyond traditional marketing, added Nantz, “to use marketing and outreach dollars to actually touch people.” Whether the health care system will go even further in promoting wellness at the arena, like offering healthier options at concessions, has not been part of the discussion so far, said Somer Lorenz, marketing director with Bon Secours.
The new contract is effective Oct. 1, said Newton. Bon Secours St. Francis is paying $4.5 million for 10-year naming rights, said Gilstrap.
Arena District officials announced earlier this year that BI-LO had opted not to renew the naming sponsorship. Naming rights typically bring in between $300,000 and $550,000 annually, said Newton.
After weathering difficulty paying bonds through revenue several years ago, the Arena District entered an intergovernmental agreement late last year with Greenville County and the City of Greenville to refinance its debt and retain accommodations tax funds that are normally refunded to the governments to pay for capital improvements.
Approximately $13 million is being used to update equipment that was purchased used or is out of date, renovate suites, and install a new scoreboard, ribbon board, curtain system and new roof, said Newton. Many of the improvements are scheduled to be ready for the first hockey game in late October, he said.