CHICAGO (AP) — All those blue United Center signs can stay right where they are. The home of the Chicago Bulls and Chicago Blackhawks is going to keep its name for a long time.
United Airlines, the facility's two main tenants and United Center Joint Venture announced Wednesday that they had reached a 20-year extension for the naming rights for one of North America's largest arenas. A spokesman for the Blackhawks said the pact kicks in for the 2014-15 season.
"We're thrilled to have United Airlines on board for another 20 years," Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz said in a release. "We are proud of the partnership and what it will continue to mean to the United Center, from our fans and customers, to the positive economic role the United Center will continue to play in Chicago."
Under the new pact, Chicago-based United remains the official airline of the arena, Bulls and Blackhawks. It gets exclusivity in the airline category and logo rights for each of its three partners. The agreement also includes a commitment by each of the parties "to develop and support community outreach programs to benefit Chicago," while promising to provide more details on the initiatives next year.
There also will be upgrades for the United Center, which opened in 1994. The improvements include more LED boards and are expected to be in place by next spring.
"We are delighted to continue our partnership with one of the most recognizable sports and entertainment facilities in the world," United executive Jeff Foland said in a release "Our more than 14,000 Chicago-based co-workers are honored to have been a part of so many Bulls and Blackhawks championship moments and look forward to many more to come."
The market for naming rights has changed dramatically since the deal for the United Center was announced in 1992, which reportedly cost the airline an average of $1.8 million per year. The original agreement was set to expire in 2014.