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United Center to keep name for another 20 years

CHICAGO IL - OCTOBER 01: Andrew Shaw # 65 Chicago Blackhawks greets fans during 'red carpet' event before Blackhawks take

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 01: Andrew Shaw # 65 of the Chicago Blackhawks greets fans during a "red carpet" event before the Blackhawks take on the Washington Capitals at the United Center on October 1, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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Updated: December 11, 2013 11:37PM



The United Center will keep its name for the next 20 years as part of a new naming-rights agreement among the Blackhawks, Bulls, the arena and United Airlines that was announced Wednesday. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

Officials say updates and upgrades are planned for outside and inside the venue. Those include new signs and LED boards. More details are expected in the spring.

Under the new agreement, United will receive advertising and promotional exclusivity in the airline category and logo rights for the Bulls, Blackhawks and the arena.

“We’re thrilled to have United Airlines on board for another 20 years,” Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz said. “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.”

Since its opening in 1994, the UC has housed over 40 million guests and hosts over 200 events each year. While the Bulls and Blackhawks occupy most of the United Center dates, the arena has hosted myriad other events in the entertainment and sporting sectors.

The UC has played host to the UFC, college basketball and the McDonald’s All-American Game. The UC also will host the men’s Division I hockey championship — also known as the Frozen Four — on April 6-8, 2017, the NCAA announced. It’s the first time the arena will host the event.

Eric Fernandez, a senior vice president at MediaLink, LLC, told the Associated Press the value was likely somewhere between $90 and $110 million. United was paying an average of $1.8 million per year for the naming rights under its previous agreement, which was set to expire in 2014, according to ESPN.

“As Chicago’s hometown airline, we are delighted to continue our partnership with one of the most recognizable sports and entertainment facilities in the world,” said Jeff Foland, United’s executive vice president of marketing, technology and strategy. “Our more than 14,000 Chicago-based coworkers are honored to have been a part of so many Bulls and Blackhawks championship moments and look forward to many more to come.”

Email: sgruen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @SethGruen



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