Sears will 'move ahead' with naming rights for Hoffman Estates arena, officials say
Hoffman Estates officials say they believe Sears Holding Corp.'s renewal of its naming-rights agreement for the Sears Centre Arena, approved only a week ago, was done in good faith, despite the company's filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Monday.
Under the agreement, Sears committed to paying $600,000 per year to keep the 11,000-seat arena under its original name through at least Aug. 31, 2022.
The agreement requires payment in full more than a year ahead of the period each $600,000 installment would cover.
The agreement likely will be among the contracts Sears lists as its obligations in bankruptcy proceedings.
But a company representative who negotiated the deal called arena General Manager Ben Gibbs Monday to say Sears intends to move forward with it, Village Manager Jim Norris said.
The bankruptcy never came up during the renegotiation of the naming rights, Mayor Bill McLeod said, adding that the Sears representatives assigned to the talks likely weren't aware of the impending filing.
"The rumors about Sears have been around for some time now," McLeod said. "We didn't know (bankruptcy) was going to be imminent. Everything was done in good faith."
The rate at which Sears' financial forecast changed over the past week also makes it possible that even those at the top weren't aware a bankruptcy filing would come so soon, Norris said.
"I don't think they knew," he said.
Though the financial terms of the new three-year naming rights agreement are the same as the previous deal, Sears was allowed a greater promotional presence inside the 12-year-old venue. That includes the development of an SYW (Shop Your Way) Lounge for arena visitors.