Standing in front of well-stocked racks of Utz chips and pretzels, Jeff Martin discussed the arena now bearing his employer's name.
"The York Fairgrounds is an institution in central Pennsylvania, and so is Utz. We love having the opportunity to partner with a long-standing institution. It's a natural fit to place our brand," said Martin, senior vice president of business development for Utz.
Martin attended the York County Economic Alliance's International Business and Workforce Expo on Tuesday night to discuss the Hanover-based snack manufacturer's recent deal with the York Fairgrounds.
Beginning June 1, the Toyota Arena will be renamed the Utz Arena. Since construction began on the 74,000-square-foot venue in 2003, it was known as the Toyota Arena.
When Toyota's sponsorship contract recently expired, the sponsorship opportunity was opened to new bidders.
"We talked to multiple companies and found a perfect fit," said Gene Schenck, president of the York Fair.
He said he and his colleagues liked the idea of a local company with international recognition.
"We also liked the idea of having a food product on the building. We're still the York Fairgrounds after all. It's the perfect sponsor from our point of view," Schenck said.
Toyota was a good sponsor, he said, but not all Yorkers were pleased with a local building bearing the name of a company headquartered in Japan.
"There were a lot of letters to the editor when the company name went up on the arena with people complaining about the fact it wasn't an American company," he said.
That name was removed last week to make way for Utz, which has a five-year contract with the venue.
Schenck wouldn't release the financial details of the new contract.
"It's a big change because it's never been called anything but the Toyota Arena, but people will be very happy. This is an all-American company everyone likes," he said.
York Fair-goers may like it even more when they receive special discounts and samples of Utz products, Schenck said. Martin said he didn't know the specifics of what will be offered.
"But you can be sure our marketing team will put together a ton of fun. We will be a lot more involved in all events at the fairgrounds because this is our backyard," he said.
The arena hosts more than 200 events a year, and many Utz employees attend those events.
"Many of our employees have worked for Utz for 30 to 40 years. To walk into the arena and see our name and our products will be a matter of personal pride," Martin said.
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