Welcome To Toyota Field: Very Major League
MADISON- “Welcome to Toyota Field,” said Rocket City Trash Pandas CEO Ralph Nelson to kick off the press conference and formal gathering and announcement of the new stadium naming partnership. Held on what will be the Bill Penney Toyota Plaza, the unveiling of the partnership was the culmination of a plan more than two years in the making.
“We began this day a couple years ago when we first spoke of this big facility,” said Madison Mayor Paul Finley. “I told Ralph we would go after the best with the best and he spoke with me about all possible field partners.”
“North Alabama is a great place to live, work and play,” said David Finch, President of Toyota Manufacturing-Alabama. “We have been very close to the community since 2003 and this partnership seemed like a natural fit for us as there was not definitive push from either side. We had a discussion, seemed like a good idea and our team ran with it and I think that’s why we’re here today.”
Nelson said he first spoke with David Fernandez, who at the time was President of Toyota Manufacturing of Alabama, and Fernandez immediately said he wanted to figure out a way to put the name Toyota on the new facility. During the next two years numerous meetings were held about the partnership and with the announcement, said Nelson, the vision of Fernandez became reality.
“This community expects and deserves a major league operation and Toyota Field is very major league,” said Nelson.
The entire deal was put together for the specific purpose of making Toyota’s team members feel the ballpark is their home. A recent Toyota plant expansion will increase employment to 1,800 with an investment of $1.2-billion and annual production capacity of 900,000 engines.
Revenue from the naming rights will be divided between the City of Madison and the Trash Pandas.
“This is a great day for all of North Alabama, but the finest hours for our community are still ahead,” said Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong. “I can remember meeting with the owner of Toyota 18 years ago on the land that is now the home of one of the company’s largest plants and he stated something great will happen here.”
As the top retail car brand in the United States, Toyota will be prominent throughout the stadium along with other major sponsors SportsMED and W.L. Halsey Grocery. Toyota will be hosting the Toyota Outfield Experience where fans will be able to connect to the brand and the iconic cars they know and love. Fans will see advanced engines from the Huntsville plant, interact with digital displays, learn what it’s like to work at Toyota and how to apply for employment. The Toyota Outfield Experience will be located beyond the right field fence.
The 2020 season of play for the Trash Pandas as members of the Southern League will have the home opener on April 15.
“I can’t wait for the first game here at Toyota Field,” added Finch.