Pine Belt Arena
RWJ Barnabas Healthcare Arena (formerly known as the Ritacco Center,the Poland Spring Arena, and then Pine Belt Arena) is a 3,208-seat multi-purpose arena in Toms River, New Jersey. It opened in 2003. It hosts various local concerts and sporting events for the area.
The arena is used for high school basketball, being home to the Toms River North Mariners's basketball teams as well as teams from other high schools in Toms River. The arena can seat 3,208 for basketball.
For trade shows, RJW Barnabas Healthcare Arena has 19,939 square feet (1,852.4 m2) of space. It is also used for graduation ceremonies.
Starting in January 2018, the name was officially changed to the "RWJBarnabas Health Arena" after the district signed a five-year deal with RWJBarnabas Health under which the district will be paid a total of $637,500 for the naming rights.
The venue is a public arena connected to the Toms River High School North. It is the centerpiece of the Toms River Regional School District. It opened June 19, 2004, and is situated on the grounds of the school. The facility is used by the high school and the school district for many functions, and is also used for performances by world-renowned artists, such as Bill Cosby and Miranda Sings. The performances and events inside the arena are ticketed and tickets are sold and marketed to the general public. The venue is used for major concert events throughout the year to raise money for the school district.
The Class of 2004 was the first group of seniors to graduate in the newly built Pine Belt Arena.
Its biggest musical performances (some as part of Toms River Fest) include Miranda Sings, Maroon 5, Kelly Clarkson, Vanessa Carlton, The Beach Boys, Frankie Valli, The Four Seasons, Kenny Rogers and The Moody Blues.
The building was originally named The Ritacco Center, after Michael Ritacco, the then superintendent of Toms River Regional Schools, with Poland Spring coming on board as a major sponsor shortly afterwards. In the wake of the bribery scandal that culminated in Ritacco's arrest by the FBI on October 21, 2010 and his retirement the same day, the school district quickly acted to erase the now-shamed name from the building. The building was then known as the Poland Spring Arena. As of October 26, 2010, using tarps, workers covered over the Ritacco Center name, and discontinued the use of the name elsewhere, including the URL www.ritaccocenter.com. The exterior signage was permanently removed on October 17, 2011.
In July 2011, the school district announced a new name sponsor for the venue. The Pine Belt Auto Group signed a $500,000 contract for the naming rights for five years.
During the building of the Pine Belt Arena, additional wings, a cafeteria, and a library were added onto the school. These additions helped limit overpopulation of the school. They also allowed freshmen to have their own wing so they could easily adjust to the high school.
- Larsen, Eric. "Pine Belt Arena in Toms River renamed a second time in 5 months: RWJBarnabas Health Arena", Asbury Park Press, December 21, 2017. Accessed January 18, 2018. "The Pine Belt Arena, which was to have been renamed the Hackensack Meridian Health Arena at the start of the new school year, will now be called the RWJBarnabas Health Arena at the start of the new calendar year.... RWJBarnabas, which owns Community Medical Center in Toms River and Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, will pay the Toms River Regional School District $637,500 over five years to have its name emblazoned upon the 3,500-seat complex on Old Freehold Road."
- Toms River covers Ritacco Center sign with tarp after ex-school chief's arrest
- Michels, Chelsea. The Ritacco Center to be renamed Pine Belt Arena, www.app.com, July 8, 2011. Retrieved July 29, 2011.