The University of Miami men’s and women’s basketball teams will not play any games in the Ryder Center next year.
The convocation center currently being erected on the east side of campus will be completed in time for the 2002-2003 season, it will simply bear a different name, officials said.
In a joint statement first issued to The Miami Hurricane, Ryder System, Inc. and the University of Miami announced Thursday that Ryder was returning the naming rights of the convocation center to the university.
“They are simply giving us the opportunity to resell the name,” UM President Donna Shalala said.
“The Ryder Corporation has been a tremendous supporter,” UM Athletic Director Paul Dee said. “Their stepping forward when they did [in 1994] made it possible.”
Ryder made a commitment to pay $9 million towards the construction of the convocation center in 1994.
“Ryder has paid a substantial amount of that money,” Dee said. “They will complete their obligations under the agreement that we have.”
According to the statement issued to The Hurricane: “Ryder’s funding support to the University of Miami remains unchanged. The company, however, has shifted its marketing strategy away from a consumer audience to an approach that targets business-to-business audiences.”
“The focus of their business changed,” Dee said. “It was no longer retail.”
Both Shalala and Dee said that Ryder approached the university a few months ago about the redirection of their advertising and the redirection of their focus.
“Over that time we’ve come to an agreement,” Dee said. “They were just about ready to make an announcement in a week or two, but I guess this made it come a little sooner.”
“[Ryder] has been among the best friends the university has ever had,” Shalala said.
Shalala and Dee said there are a few possible corporate sponsors in mind, but they are not ready to release their names as yet.
“We have some people that we plan to talk to, but those are usually kept private before we have the opportunity to contact them,” Dee said.
If any of the corporate sponsors were to say no to the opportunity to rename the convocation center, their declination might reflect poorly on them publicly, Dee explained.
The process for finding a new sponsor will remain the same, Shalala said.
“It’ll take a significant gift,” Shalala said. “It’ll be in the same range as the Ryder gift, and based on when Ryder’s gift was made, it might be a bit higher.”
The money from a new sponsor will go directly to paying off the costs of the construction, according to officials.
“We borrowed money to build the Ryder center,” Shalala said.
“It’ll help us pay it off sooner,” Dee said. “It’ll help us pay down the mortgage a lot faster.”
Overall, officials said they are thrilled with Ryder’s announcement.
“It’s a good deal for the university. We’re pleased we were able to work it out. I can’t say enough great things about Ryder,” Shalala said.
“It was [Ryder’s] goodwill to let us remarket the name. It was a tremendous gift by them,” Dee said.