Officials celebrate installation of new Infinite Energy Arena signs
By: Curt Yeomans
Published: Wednesday, December 2, 2015
Visitors who come to the Infinite Energy Arena for concerts, church services and monster truck rallies will notice a new name standing tall above the venue’s front door from now on.
Officials gathered at the arena Wednesday morning to celebrate the completion of sign replacements that swept away the old Gwinnett Arena name and replaced it with the new moniker. The arena was the first phase of an ongoing signage change out at the Infinite Energy Center, whose naming rights were bought by energy company, Infinite Energy, earlier this fall.
“There was a lot of hard work to get us here today and we’ve got a lot more to do,”Infinite Energy Center general manager Joey Dennis said. “There’s a lot more signs to put up.”
Officials from the center, Infinite Energy and county government and schools painted the company’s purchase of naming rights as the creation of a new partnership in the community. The company has agreed to pay $18 million for 20-year naming rights on the center, which includes the arena, performing arts center and convention center.
That was highlighted at Wednesday’s ceremony with a major financial donation of $41,325 to the Gwinnett County Schools Foundation.
“This is more than a commitment to this center,” Infinite Energy co-founder and co-CEO Darin Cook said. “This is a commitment to Georgia, and especially to Gwinnett County.”
Commissioner Jace Brooks, who also sits on the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau board, said support for the partnership is already building among community and business leaders.
“What we’re celebrating here is not just a new sign or a new name,” Brooks said. “This is the start of a long and productive partnership between Infinite Energy and the entire Gwinnett County community.”
A big investment in STEAM education
Cook and fellow co-founder and co-CEO Rich Blaser took that partnership a step further at the sign unveiling with their donation to the school system’s Foundation.
Cook said at least part of the money will be earmarked to help fund robotics programs in the county’s schools through an initiative called Educational Innovation. It is similar to donations the company makes to schools in its home base of Alachua County, Fla.
Cook also said the donation was the first of many that the company plans to make to Gwinnett County schools in the years to come as the company commits itself to supporting STEAM education for local students.
“Last year, Infinite Energy decide to focus all of its corporate citizenship initiatives on the education of our children,” Cook said. “We did this because we want our dollars to have impact for generations to come. With this purpose in mind, and since Gwinnett County is now our home, we want to focus our education giving in Gwinnett County.
“Every year, we will give Gwinnett County Public Schools $5 for every customer we have in Gwinnett County, starting today … As STEAM fields become more and more necessary in a global market, we believe teaching our children these increasing important skills is the best way to assure Gwinnett County’s continued success.”
The company currently has 8,265 customers in the county, Cook added.
Gwinnett schools Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks thanked officials at the convention and visitor’s bureau and county government for reaching the naming rights agreement with Infinite Energy. He also pledged to make the company proud of the school system in return for the donation.
“We do know that students today are in need of a quality and effective education,” Wilbanks said. “They need to be involved in the things that make them competitive both locally, nationally (and) globally, and to do that the areas of STEAM — and there are several in that, but one in particular is the robotics area — have really been engagers for students.
“They love that, but more importantly, they come out of that with skills that are needed in workforce and workplace that will prepare them not just for college or career, but will prepare them for life.”
Sign change out continues at center
Dennis said the center is preparing to gear up for the next phase of the sign changes at the center, which will focus on the performing arts center and the convention center, which is now known as the Infinite Energy Forum.
Designs for the signs that will be installed in that phase are nearly complete and the center will seek bids for the installation when the designs are ready, according to Dennis. The third phase will focus on remaining signs around the edges of the property.
“There are about 300 to 350 things we’re changing the name on after, oh, 20 years,” Dennis said. “(The arena) was the big one. It was the toughest and took the longest time. I can’t give you a time when we’ll have the forum and the theater up.”