Vibrant is not just the name of an 87-year-old credit union with $1 billion in assets and 55,000 members, that will put its name on the beloved Moline arena that will turn 30 years old next May. It’s what it wants the facility at 1201 River Drive to be more of.
Vibrant announced Thursday it’s acquiring naming rights to the TaxSlayer Center for $4 million over 10 years, and effective Sept. 1, it will become Vibrant Arena at The MARK. The arena opened in 1993 as The MARK of the Quad Cities, with two sold-out Neil Diamond shows.
Vibrant started in 1935 as John Deere Harvester Credit Union, and today the company owns an insurance business, title company and will launch a coffeehouse and kitchen at its new Moline headquarters off John Deere Road.
“One of the main things, we wanted to give a throwback to the original name,” president/CEO Matt McCombs said Thursday of The MARK in a video presentation during a press conference on the new name. 12,000-seat arena was the iWireless Center from 2007 to 2017, when it was renamed the TaxSlayer Center.
The new name “allows us to reinvest back in the community to what we’ve always known this great place to be,” McCombs said, noting many people have always called it The MARK. “This partnership more than just a name on the building.
“It’s all the things we can do to modernize, revitalize the feeling on the inside,” he said. One of the best things about the arena is the green-tinted glass exterior, that faces east along River Drive, and Vibrant plans on adding its – well, vibrant — color scheme to those windows.
As people walk up the stairs, Vibrant also will add an LED wall and on the second floor, a Vibrant Lounge.
“It looks like you’re in a backyard, with the ability to have special events,” McCombs said. “How do we continue to bring that energy, that color and pop to what’s in the building already?”
The second-floor lounge along the windows will look like you’re at a barbecue, with indoor/outdoor aspects. “The goal is to use it for public events,” McCombs said. “Our goal is to how do we make this a place people continue to want to be at?”
The first time he was in the building was as a 13-year-old to see the Harlem Globetrotters in the ‘90s (McCombs is 40 now, with four daughters), but the arena still has the same color scheme, which needs updating, he said.
“We’re excited about the look and feel,” McCombs said. “I hope what the community sees is a partner that can give back on a daily basis. When I think about our brand, our people, and members that we have, it’s that sense of energy and sense of alive that I think is a big part of what we are.
“Anytime we can go back in and be true to who we are and invest into our roots, our community, our employees, I think is an amazing thing,” he said. Vibrant will look into providing early access to arena events for credit union members, or host events.
“We’re thrilled to be the first local business to actually have the naming rights,” McCombs said. “I think being able to have the Vibrant Arena at The MARK over the next 10 years is an amazing thing.”
“We’re excited to bring the name The MARK back onto this,” he said, noting he brought his four daughters (ages 5, 8, 10 and 13) back this past January to see the Globetrotters.
“A great day”
“It’s truly a great day. We’re very excited to work with Vibrant,” Scott Mullen, executive director of the arena and conference center, said Thursday on the arena floor.
“Their proposal was nothing like we’ve ever gotten in the past from another naming-rights partner,” he said. “It was very comprehensive and well thought out. You could tell how passionate they were about this community and about the tradition of The MARK and the iconic name that The MARK carried. It’s great to be able to put that back into the building and refer to that again, because it’s a source of pride for so many people in our community.”
“This is truly going to be a collaborative partnership,” Mullen said of Vibrant investing in improving the building, to keep it looking new and fresh.
“People still come in here and think the building is only a few years old. We’ve been able to keep it up and we’re going to make it better, update it, and get some new color schemes, new bells and whistles that will be very cool,” he said.
“We’re part of the community. That’s the biggest thing we looked at — how can we as a local institution invest back in the community?” McCombs said in person. “It impacts all of us on a daily basis. It was really about how we continue to invest in the things we know and love about The Mark. How do we enhance it?”
What changed with TaxSlayer?
Mullen said the TaxSlayer agreement was 10 years, worth $3.3 million initiated in 2017, but it was paused for 16 months the arena was closed with the 2020 COVID shutdown.
TaxSlayer, an online and professional tax and financial-services technology company, acquired the naming rights to the multi-purpose arena and conference center on Oct. 1, 2017. The Georgia-based company was approached by Impression Sports & Entertainment, which worked with TaxSlayer on other corporate sponsorships and brokered what was originally planned to be a 10-year-deal.
“We had an arrangement with them, where if we could find a better deal,” the arena could switch naming rights, Mullen said Thursday. The iWireless deal was $4.25 million over 10 years.
“They said, go ahead, shop it around,” Mullen said of TaxSlayer’s attitude. “If you find somebody, just let us know. And so we did and found a great partner, a great deal. It’s a win-win-win for all sides. Everybody’s happy.”
With TaxSlayer, “it was no problem with money,” Mullen said. “They got a new CEO; they were looking at the relationship here. We could have stayed with them. There was no pressure on our side. We could have kept them if we wanted. They gave us the opportunity and we took advantage of it.”
“It’s so great to have a local partner that understands the community,” he said of Vibrant. “They’ll put a lot of money in upgrading the building, making it look fresh and new, and that will be terrific. They’ve got a team of people with so many cool, new ideas, that’s refreshing. They’re seeing things with a different set of eyes.”
Vibrant will also provide contracted services like web design and social media, as part of the deal, and they’re also buying a suite, Mullen said, noting the total package is worth significantly more than $4 million.
Vibrant is working on an RFP for the exterior changes, he said.
“It’s going to make the arena look new,” Mullen said, including the interior LED sign changes, and color design changes (away from maroon and teal, to more neutral colors).
Vibrant last year opened its new headquarters in the former Sam’s Club building at 6600 44th Ave., Moline, and in the old tire shop, the new coffeehouse and kitchen will open in mid-September. There are just under 200 employees at the new HQ.
“This is where our employees are, and what we do with our family and where we participate,” McCombs said of The MARK. “This isn’t a naming rights deal. This is a partnership. How can we find ways to work with the team here, to enhance, to find ways we can be part of that enhancement?”
Updated paint and signage will be tackled first, he said. “What you will see throughout the building, there’s a lot of the green and burgundy color, we’re gonna change that to more charcoals and gray, things like that.”
The arena suggested keeping The MARK name with iWireless and TaxSlayer, which didn’t want to, Mullen said. “These guys are from the Quad Cities, so they obviously get it. People call it The MARK anyway.”
In 2005, the former Deere Harvester Credit Union first changed its name to DHCU, and then in 2015, the credit union rebranded as Vibrant, with the same ownership.
“We looked at The MARK as that iconic name,” McCombs said. “Our brand has grown in the last five to seven years, with the name change. How do we bring those two things together and recognize the tradition of what we have?”
Vibrant has over 55,000 members across its nine branches, which stretch from Des Moines to Indiana.
“There’s a lot of things we’re doing to invest back in the Quad Cities,” McCombs said. “If COVID taught us anything, it’s that sense of community.”
On Vibrant’s Facebook page later Thursday, Lauren Natedogg Bloomquist wrote to McCombs: “I am in tears about how incredibly proud I am to have worked and loved such an amazing company! Congratulations, this is such incredible news! And I absolutely love the new name! Such an awesome feeling right now, & I am so excited to see what Vibrant does for The MARK. Because I know it will be amazing!”
A Vibrant coffeehouse will open in April 2023 in Des Moines as well, and plans for four or five more. For more on the company, click HERE.