Savannah’s new arena has a name

BySean Evans Published:Jul. 20, 2021 at 11:58 AM EDT

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The name of the new Savannah arena was unveiled on Tuesday.

The Enmarket Arena is scheduled to have a soft opening in January 2022.

The naming rights for the new arena were unveiled by the City of Savannah and the firm they contracted to manage the arena - Oak View Group. Oak View Group was awarded that job by the last council, and that means they handle things like food vendors, entertainment and even the naming rights process for the arena.

This multi-year deal naming rights partnership with Enmarket was announced Tuesday, just inside the south entrance to the 9,500 seat arena, which has about a half a year left of work before completed.

During Tuesday’s weekly news conference, Savannah Mayor Van Johnson explained why naming the new arena wasn’t up to city staff or council members.

“I just need to say for the record, the City of Savannah, we had no role in that. It is part of the contractual agreement that has been approved by the city council prior to us. And the council did not have a role. I’m not sure we should’ve had a role because it’s a financial negotiation,” Mayor Johnson.

While the city didn’t have any role in pursuing or awarding the naming rights to the new arena, Mayor Johnson said it was important to see a local company become the partner, which he says reflects council’s goal of putting Savannah companies first.

“It’s exciting to finally be able to share the news with the Savannah community. It’s just a great statement of the company’s continued investment in the community. And we’re just tickled to see this thing come to fruition and open up next year and all the excitement that will come with this new arena for Savannah,” said Matt Clements, VP of Marketing for Enmarket.

Enmarket was founded in 1964 as Interstate Stations by Robert Demere in Savannah. Enmarket operated as Interstate Stations until 1990, when the name was changed to Enmark. In 2015, the company opened its first two stores branded as Enmarket.

The company operates 129 locations throughout Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina.

The Enmarket Arena is nearly weathered in, meaning the inside will be completely protected from the elements. So now, crews have essentially begun transitioning to the interior work like dry wall. Soon they’ll also start pouring the floor where the ice will go for the hockey team, and then installing seats.

City staff say they’re approaching the portion of the project where they’ll have the highest number of workers inside the arena, about 300 workers a day starting in the next couple weeks.

On the banner revealing the new name of the arena was a line saying it’s opening this coming January, and city staff explained why that is.

We expect full operations, complete project in February. We’re working with the operators to schedule a show at partial capacity in January, more details will come on that. But the operators, they want a chance to work out all the kinks, make sure that all the operations are working, have sort of a live dress rehearsal before we have a full-capacity show,” said Chief Operating Officer for the City of Savannah Bret Bell.

Bordering the new arena are two major road widening projects, one to make a portion of Stiles Avenue four lanes, the other to make Gwinnett four lanes. Bell says while the goal is to have both road projects completely done by the time the arena opens, there’s a good chance they won’t be. But he says the roads will at least be partially opened to allow access to the new Enmarket Arena.

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