When you drive by the stadium home of the York Revolution, the facade still reads "Santander Stadium."
But, come April 28, the date of York's 2016 home opener, the stadium will have a new name.
During the Revs' annual "Hot Stove Luncheon" at the Yorktowne Hotel on Thursday, PeoplesBank, a Codorus Valley Company, announced it has reached an agreement with the Revs to name the professional baseball club’s home PeoplesBank Park for the next seven years, through the end of 2022. Financial terms were not released.
"We became aware, almost a year ago at this point, that our previous naming-rights partner didn't intend to renew. Their business priorities were changing," team president Eric Menzer said. "So, we were out on the trail, meeting with businesses, talking with people who we thought were good prospects, and fortunately, we discovered that this was a great fit for PeoplsBank. It took about, probably, nine months to put together to make sure our business interests aligned, but, man, I'll tell you, I couldn't be happier."
As part of the agreement, PeoplesBank said it plans to be an integral part of the team’s 10th anniversary celebrations in 2016, teaming with the Revs for “PeoplesBank Night” on Saturday, April 30, 2016, and “Kids Eat Free Wednesdays” throughout the season. Further promotions will be announced as the season draws closer.
Under the agreement, baseball will continue to be the park's primary purpose, but community activities are also on the annual calendar. The facility will continue to host youth sports and non-athletic events, such as the Fourth of July celebration and fundraising events hosted by York County non-profit organizations.
Long-term agreement: Also included in the partnership agreement are two options for PeoplesBank to control the naming rights through the 2035 season. York has a stadium lease agreement through the end of the 2035 season, making it a good fit for both parties.
"I'm hopeful that I don't have to have this announcement for a long, long time," Menzer said. "And, yes, not only (is there) certainty and longevity, but to have someone who is truly, truly engaged with us in a partnership is exciting for me."
Before PeoplesBank and the Revs joined on this partnership, the stadium name had changed twice in the team's first nine seasons. When York first began play in the independent Atlantic League in 2007, the stadium name was Sovereign Bank Stadium. That name changed to Santander Stadium in 2013 after Santander Bank took over Sovereign Bank in 2009.
"It's very exciting": This is the second big sponsorship announcement the Revs have made in quick succession. Just last week, York and its Susquehanna River rival, the Lancaster Barnstormers, announced that PNC Bank would be the official sponsor of their "War of the Roses" rivalry, officially changing the rivalry's name to "The War of the Roses' Presented by PNC Bank."
"It's very exciting," Menzer said. "As I said, we're heading into our 10th season. We're going to be rolling out some things to celebrate our 10th season that I also think are going to be the essence of minor league baseball, the essence of family entertainment and the essence of fun. We're a hospitality business that plays baseball. We're a community business that plays baseball. We're a family entertainment business that plays baseball. I don't want to minimize the importance of the baseball, it's really important to a core group of our customers — season-ticket holders — that sort of group, but everybody knows we can't survive on that alone. We survive by being a strong presence in the community and helping people have fun."
Orioles legend speaks: While the new stadium naming partnership was the big announcement at the luncheon, York also had another treat for the folks in attendance.
Baltimore Orioles pitching legend and Hall of Famer Jim Palmer was on hand as the event's keynote speaker.
He brought the audience to laughter on several occasions, recalling stories from his days as a three-time World Series champion pitcher and the early days of his broadcasting career.
Palmer is widely considered one of the best pitchers in baseball history, earning spots on six All-Star teams, winning four Cy Young awards and earning three Gold Gloves. He has a career record of 268-152 and an earned-run average of 2.86. He's the only pitcher in MLB history to win a World Series game in three different decades, and he never allowed a grand slam or back-to-back home runs in 575 career games.
Palmer now works for MASN as a color analyst for O's games. As a guest in York, which is home to a large population of O's fans, it wouldn't have been a complete trip without touching on the O's current offseason, which has included a seven-year $150 million offer, which was later pulled off the table, to All-Star first baseman, Chris Davis.
Palmer has a history of playing alongside a couple baseball players tied to York County, Chris Hoiles and Andy Etchebarren, who both served as Revs' managers. Knowing the passion for baseball in the York area, and it's proximity to Baltimore, Thursday's event served as way for Palmer to give something back to York.
"I've always known that the Revolution have existed," he said. "At lunch, I was talking about the fact that I would go to Yankee Stadium as a 9 year old and dream about being a major league player. There are a lot of guys that are going to play in the independent league that are looking at a second chance, or a first chance. When I went to Aberdeen, South Dakota, in (Class) A ball, there weren't a lot of people that thought I was going to go to the big leagues. ... So, you just never know. I know how important baseball is. .. .And I also know that when the Revolution are out of town, a lot of the fans up here might come and see the Orioles play."
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at email@example.com