Rawhide sells ballpark’s name to Valley Strong Credit Union

Visalia Rawhide have reached an agreement to sell the naming rights of Recreation Ballpark to Valley Strong Credit Union

VISALIA – The home of the Visalia Rawhide has a new name. The team along with Valley Strong Credit Union announced yesterday that Recreation Ballpark will be renamed to Valley Strong Ballpark beginning next month.

The Visalia City Council and Major League Baseball approved the name change last week. When First Pitch, owners of the Visalia Rawhide, took over the team prior to last year’s canceled season, they entered into a contract with the city of Visalia which allowed them to sell the naming rights to the stadium to generate revenue for the team. First Pitch fielded several offers and selected Valley Strong Credit Union. The contract between First Pitch and Valley Strong Credit Union will run for 10 years.

City Councilmember Greg Collins was the lone dissenter in the 3-1 vote to approve the name. He said the city already supports the team with about $200,000 per year and the city spends about $100,000 in maintenance and utility payments per year for the stadium.

“It’s been Recreation Park for 75 years,” Collins said. “I don’t see the need to, number one, rename it and, number two, I disagree with the fact that it is a city facility yet people are benefiting from the renaming of it.”

Collins noted the previous contract retained naming rights for the city and said he was in disagreement with a private entity earning revenue from a city facility. Mayor Steve Nelsen said the current contract does provide naming rights to the Rawhide and the council had already voted on the contract for a new 10-year deal.

“We’re following the contract,” Nelsen said. “They made the effort to get the naming rights.”

According to Rawhide president and co-owner Sam Sigal, they decided to go with Valley Strong because they’re a brand that cares about the city of Visalia. Sigal and his family moved to the area less than two years ago and fell in love with the city. With Valley Strong’s recent expansion into Visalia, he deems it important to have partnered with a brand that shares a similar appreciation for the area.

“I don’t think there could be a better name for a ballpark in Visalia, California, than Valley Strong,” Sigal said. “When you put a name on one of the most visible buildings in the city for multiple years, it has to signify the location. I think their entire brand, their company, what they offer, and what they stand for is that powerful.”

According to yesterday’s joint press release, the partnership will offer Valley Strong a high-visibility opportunity to strengthen its brand within Tulare and Kings counties community and surrounding areas. Currently, Valley Strong has two branches in Tulare County with three additional branches anticipated in the next couple years.

“Valley Strong is committed to building long-lasting relationships within our communities,” Valley Strong’s executive vice president/CFO Nick Ambrosini said. “Partnering with the Visalia Rawhide gives us the opportunity to be a part of this amazing organization, serving our Tulare and Kings counties members.”

The partnership will create a pathway for Visalia Rawhide, a low-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and Valley Strong to work together to co-brand and rename the ballpark, while also leveraging their trusted brands in other park events including fireworks shows and various festivals.

The Rawhide starts its season on May 4. Valley Strong mascot, Rocky Racoon, will be throwing out the first pitch.

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