TAMPA — After opening nearly 60 branches in Tampa Bay and even picking Tampa as the site of last year's annual meeting, JPMorgan Chase has iced a sports marketing deal to cement its local commitment.
The New York-based megabank signed a broad, five-year agreement to become the official financial sponsor of the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Tampa Bay Storm and the two teams' home venue: the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
The sponsorship, expected to be announced today, will make Chase one of the top corporate sponsors in the downtown arena with dibs as its official bank, credit card and financial services partner.
The Chase name will appear in the ice and on the boards around the rink. The bank will also have eight ATMs throughout the sports complex. The Times Forum's most exclusive seating area, now called the Channelside Club, is being renamed the Chase Club.
Financial terms were not disclosed, but Chase officials described it as one of the Lightning's top sponsorship deals, second only in scope to the naming rights deal with the Tampa Bay Times.
The deal fills a void after PNC Financial ended its role as the Lightning's bank sponsor two years ago. Two area credit unions, Grow Financial and GTE Federal, are expected to continue marketing arrangements with the Lightning.
Bill Abercrombie, the team's senior vice president of partnership development, said the two organizations meshed in many ways. Both are very community-oriented, both are involved in youth activities, and both are focused on military programs.
"We felt like we were in synch," added Dan Borasch, Chase's president of middle market commercial banking in Tampa Bay. "Here is a company that really cares about the community and leads from the front. That's what we like to do in terms of helping to develop our communities."
Borasch said he was impressed, for instance, that Lightning owner Jeff Vinik continued to fund the team's Community Heroes program even when there were no games during the recent hockey lockout.
Under the new partnership, Chase and the Tampa Bay Lightning will work together to upgrade hockey rinks and provide hundreds of sets of hockey equipment to area youth.
Chase established a foothold in Florida through buying Washington Mutual's branch network in the wake of the 2008 financial shakeup. Since then, it has swelled to 59 branches and 284 ATMs in the bay area alone.
The branches — along with two large Chase operating centers at Fountain Square and Highland Oaks — translate to about 5,500 bank employees throughout the region.
Statewide, Chase now has more than 17,000 employees and 338 branches, and plans to add 30 to 40 branches annually in the next couple of years.
Chase also recently became a sponsor of the Orlando Magic at the Amway Center. Outside Florida, its biggest sponsorship is at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
To introduce the newest venture, the Lightning will light up the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Chase blue during tonight's game against the New York Islanders.
Jeff Harrington can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8242.