For months the Chicago Bulls' new Development League team, the Windy City Bulls, has been promoting its home court as Hoffman Estates' Sears Centre Arena -- and so will the venue continue to be named through at least Aug. 31, 2019.
Hoffman Estates village board members Monday unanimously approved a $1.8 million agreement re-awarding the naming rights of the decade-old facility to Sears Holdings Corp., which has been headquartered in the village since 1992.
Ben Gibbs, general manager of the Sears Centre, said continuity is especially important at this critical phase of the arena's history. But as the NBA's D League is itself in growth mode and will possibly take on TV deals in the future, the arena's naming rights may become even more valuable in the future.
Under the new agreement, the village will resume discussions with Sears Holdings in 18 months about extending the naming rights further.
"I think it really is a great contract," said Hoffman Estates Trustee Gary Pilafas, who chairs the village's finance committee. "Hats off to everyone for that. I think the future is very bright at the arena."
The village has owned the Sears Centre for the past six years, since the dissolution of the MadKatStep LLC, which first proposed and built it.
Assistant Village Manager Mark Koplin said the original naming rights were awarded not through a typical marketing agreement but because Sears was an actual business partner in the endeavor.
The other partner -- developer Ryan Companies -- ceased its involvement with the arena in 2009. But Sears, which had provided 35 acres for the project in the Prairie Stone Business Park, continued to make the annual payments on its 10-year commitment to the facility.
Village Manager Jim Norris said negotiations with Sears began last year, as the naming rights could have been up for grabs on the arena's 10th anniversary this summer if Sears chose not to renew.