Hoffman Estates' Sears Centre likely to keep its name

Hoffman Estates has negotiated a proposed $1.8 million agreement for Sears Holdings Corp. to retain the naming rights of the decade-old Sears Centre Arena in the village for at least three more years.

This is the first time the village has negotiated the naming rights during its six years of owning the arena.

Village board members are expected to consider the proposed agreement and vote on it at their meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, May 2.

Village officials Friday said the continued use of the Sears name reflects the company's strong and active involvement in the community while providing stability as the arena becomes home to the Chicago Bulls' new Development League team this fall and generates further economic development around it in the Prairie Stone Business Park.

"Sears has been an excellent community partner, offering support and participation throughout the village since they moved to Hoffman Estates in 1992," Mayor Bill McLeod said. "They are a well-known company with an identifiable brand and the village values its relationship with Sears and looks forward to continuing and expanding that relationship through the new naming rights agreement."

Ben Gibbs, general manager of the Sears Centre, said the agreement "allows us to maintain continuity as we enter our 10th year of operation and the inaugural season of the Windy City Bulls of the NBA D League."

Howard Riefs, director of corporate communications for Sears Holdings, expressed the company's enthusiasm for the agreement. "We look forward to the years ahead as the Sears Centre Arena hosts leading family entertainment, sporting and cultural events, and the Windy City Bulls."

Assistant Village Manager Mark Koplin said that the name was originally reached not through a typical, marketing-oriented naming rights agreement but because Sears was a business partner in the endeavor.

The company provided 35 acres and $10 million to make the arena happen. Its business partner in the MadKatStep LLC was the developer Ryan Companies. Initial arena use didn't meet expectations and MadKatStep's involvement ended in 2009 amid financial problems, leading to the village taking it over and changing management. But Sears continued to make its annual payments to retain the name through September 2015.

Village Manager Jim Norris said the original naming rights would end on the arena's 10th anniversary, and so negotiations with Sears began late last year. There was an immediate strong desire on the company's part to continue that relationship and also strong excitement on the part of everyone to see the Windy City Bulls raise the profile of the arena, he said.

"We believe the Bulls are going to do extremely well," he added.

The new agreement would begin on Sept. 1 and run through Aug. 31, 2019.

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