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Florida's Stephen C. O'Connell Center adding Exactech Arena name upon reopening

The local company paid millions to be Florida's first naming rights sponsor.

Florida Gators

Florida adding Steve Spurrier's name to its football field wasn't the only major renaming news to come from Thursday. The school also announced its first corporate naming rights deal, one that will add Exactech Arena to the name of the Stephen C. O'Connell Center.

"The University of Florida is so fortunate to have a relationship with a quality organization and quality company like Exactech," Director of Athletics Jeremy Foley said. "Their values reflect the university's values and those of the athletic association. We love the fact that it's a local company with roots right here, right up the street from the University of Florida."

Exactech is a medical supply company that specializes in orthopedic devices. It is headquarted in Gainesville, and was founded by Drs. William Petty and Gary Miller, both graduates of the University of Florida, in 1985. Petty and Miller both served as UF professors for at least a decade each, and have also served on a variety of boards with the school and in the Gainesville community in the years since.

Exactech reported net sales of over $241 million in its most recent annual report to the IRS, a jump of almost $80 million from the figure CNN listed for it while labeling it one of America's fastest-growing small businesses in 2009.

And while it's all well and good that Exactech is a thriving local company founded by Gators, one that Florida higher-ups are probably very proud to partner with, what matters most here is the money that made it worth the while of all involved — which, as Chris Harry writes in Florida's release, likely helped push Florida's fund-raising for the renovation of the O'Dome over the finish line.

Exactech's naming agreement is broken into two phases; a 10-year, $5.9 million pledge with an additional five-year, $3.5 million option on the back end. The multi-million dollar value of the contract was instrumental in helping UF, which owns the O'Connell Center, and the University Athletic Association, the arena's prime tenant, proceed with the ambitious $64.5 renovation of the facility that is scheduled for completion in December. Fox Sports represented UF in helping broker the agreement.

A 15-year, $9.4 million deal would translate to just under $630,000 per year, which seems somewhat low, though the structure of the deal is likely one that gave Florida some extra cash up front and gives the Gators a bit more on the back end should Exactech choose to renew.

That value would be less than half the average value of the 10-year agreement struck in 2010 between Yum! Brands and the University of Louisville to name the Cardinals' multipurpose arena the KFC Yum! Center. But that facility is both significantly larger, seating 22,000 to the renovated O'Dome's 10,000, and located in a much larger metropolitan area: Louisville alone has a population of more than a quarter of a million residents, while the metro area is home to more than 1.25 million people.

Florida's been known for financial prudence under Jeremy Foley, to the point that Foley's been painted as parsimonious for long refusing to engage in the ongoing arms race between prominent colleges being waged with indoor football practice facilities and gleaming new arenas. As of December 2016, Florida will have both of those, at competitive costs and with only months' disruption of team schedules.

If a corporate naming rights deal done with a local company with deep ties to the university is part of what had to happen to make that possible, then so be it.

I'm still calling it the O'Dome.