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‘Hawks announce 20-year naming rights deal for United Center

Dec 11, 2013, 3:18 PM EDT

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 12: Patrick Sharp #10 of the Chicago Blackhawks attempts to control the puck in the corner against the Boston Bruins in Game One of the NHL 2013 Stanley Cup Final at United Center on June 12, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) Getty Images

The United Center will continue to be the United Center for at least the next 20 years.

That’s the plan for now, at least — i.e. assuming United Airlines is still United Airlines in 20 years.


“We’re thrilled to have United Airlines on board for another 20 years,” said Chicago Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz in a release about the naming-rights deal. “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.”

Opened in 1994, the United Center replaced the old Chicago Stadium. The new arena wasn’t universally loved at first, with many fans complaining it was too big, making it harder to foster the same atmosphere of the previous rink. But on the bright side, there were far fewer rats.

The ‘Hawks are averaging an NHL-high 21,415 in attendance this season. They’ve led the league in attendance since 2008-09.

Financial terms of the new deal were not disclosed.

  1. chicagobtech - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:28 PM

    Average of 21,415 people at every game…for a barn with 19,717 seats in its hockey configuration. You know Wirtz and Reinsdorf are loving it.

  2. ibieiniid - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    i never understood why companies pay such big bucks to name an arena. I’m a huge Flyers fan, but there’s no way in hell I’d bank with Wells-Fargo. I doubt there’s many people that walk in the doors of Staples Center and say “oh yeah, I need to go get some toner” and walk back out.

    • spydey629 - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:43 PM

      It’s subliminal marketing. Watch the game tonight, and track how many times “United” is mentioned during the broadcast. Not to mention how many times you see the United Airlines logo every time there is a shot of center ice.

      You may not bank with Wells Fargo (I didn’t jump to Mellon when the Pens renamed the Igloo), but you know the name, don’t you?

      Think about it… you probably know Comerica (Bank), CenturyLink (Investments), Great American (Insurance), and CONSOL Energy (coal mining) because of the stadiums their names are on, not the business they do.

      That’s why these companies pay so much for the “right” to have their name on the building. It’s one giant ad, every time there is a game, concert, or traffic report around the venue.

      • ibieiniid - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:48 PM

        I understand that it’s an advertisement, but are people really deciding to trade with CenturyLink because it’s the home of their favorite football team? I guess they probably have the numbers to prove that it works, but it seems like they think we’re dumb.

        then again, some of us are dumb, sooooo……. i see your point.

      • ibieiniid - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:56 PM

        you tricked me, CenturyLink is a communications company anyway. I may, in fact, be one of these dumb people we’re referring to.

      • ibieiniid - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:56 PM

        on second thought, that actually solidifies my point. I watch football every Sunday, still didn’t know what CenturyLink was.

        alright now I’m confused.

      • spydey629 - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:59 PM

        I’d have to really dig, but there is an article out there about how much revenue is generated per mention during a sports broadcast. The particle article used Comerica Bank as the example, the year Detroit hosted the MLB All-Star Game.

        You wouldn’t believe it… yes, people are that dumb.

      • esracerx46 - Dec 11, 2013 at 6:51 PM

        Ive often wondered this. Can these conglomerates really get that much return on an investment like this? Do that many people really go to Lowe’s when they watch a Nascar race? Itd be interesting to ask a fortune 500 ceo and see what their answer is. Provided its an honest one. Ive felt part of the reason they advertise is not for exposure, but to lower the amount of profit a company has thus lowering their tax burden.

      • logicalcomment - Dec 11, 2013 at 10:27 PM

        it’s also BRANDING

  3. goodknave - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:34 PM

    Somewhere George Gershwin is smiling.

  4. stcrowe - Dec 11, 2013 at 4:42 PM

    It is nice to see that this generation of the Wirtz family has learned from the mistakes of the last one, and restored fan excitement and loyalty.

    • ibieiniid - Dec 11, 2013 at 4:51 PM

      let’s not jump to saying Hawks fans are “loyal” yet. wait until they miss the playoffs for a couple years and see who shows up. momma always said “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.”

      • endusersolutions2013 - Dec 11, 2013 at 7:35 PM

        Actually that was a George Santayana quote. But mis-applied – Rocky Wirtz did learn and changed how the team was run.

        His ultra cheap dad quite successfully alienated old fans and did not attract new ones.

  5. muckleflugga - Dec 11, 2013 at 5:27 PM

    give residual revenue after costs to community groups enhancing lives of underprivileged youth

    lose the chelsea dagger and its connotation

    lose the baggage surcharge

    you make me a fan who’ll fly united forever and ever, aaaaamen

  6. endusersolutions2013 - Dec 11, 2013 at 5:38 PM

    The name thing (nastalgia for many of us)

    • slysipops - Dec 12, 2013 at 7:49 PM

      TOO FUNNY … been a long time since i saw that guy perform ! lol!

  7. muckleflugga - Dec 11, 2013 at 6:29 PM


    i don’t know, but i’ve been told…

    i have several buddies from junior high who were fanatical hawks supporters, this in the mid-sixties; as a wings supporter, we crossed swords many times and still do…all in fun. ditto my dad, he late of this world…the laughs, tossing them back in his greenhouse and hurling exaggerated abuse on our teams

    in my experience, living in a city that inherited an nhl franchise, fans supporting original six teams remain devoutly loyal, absolutely…

    i wear my wings sweater to flames games, and get the attendant abuse, always from a safe distance. i meet other fans wearing original six sweaters when their teams are in town…we always circle and shoot the breeze over timmy’s or an outrageously over-priced beer

    its a club within a club, tough to explain, loyalty…

    • endusersolutions2013 - Dec 11, 2013 at 7:23 PM

      muckledude, I think this was what you were thinking;)

  8. muckleflugga - Dec 11, 2013 at 7:45 PM


    never a deadhead myself, i hang with some riders who are believers to the day…we’ve rolled into the black hills and sturgis with that stuff at full volume

    same guys play hockey, and it rocks our room at tournaments…our hotel floor and rooms are usually the most popular with other teams for reasons you may surmise

    jeeezley cripes, great tag, great memories

  9. frankiesweep - Dec 11, 2013 at 11:03 PM

    I remember the place being half full. Then they got good and started selling out.

    All of a sudden they had the best fans in the league.


  10. slysipops - Dec 12, 2013 at 8:10 PM

    I’VE been to games at the old CHICAGO STADIUM as well as the UNITED CENTER . the ” OLD BARN” was definately an old school ,blue collar , hockey fans place to see a game. it seated 16,666 and was always close to,or sold out even in the not-so-good years. we could only get standing room only tickets most of the time . that meant gettig to the game an hour or so early and being ready to fend off intruders. the BEST place to stand and watch a game was the first balconey opposite end of the rink from the organ.perfect view of 95 % of the ice and close enough to hear the extras going on during the game. it was a VERY TOUGH SPOT to secure , but well worth the effort when you got it! the loudest ,craziest game we were at was the last game of the season,when the HAWKS were still in the EAST DIV. MUST have been at least 24,000 maniacs at the game. the BLACKHAWKS beat MONTREAL 10 to 2 ! the floors literally shook with every goal they scored. i thought for sure the place would cave in before we got out of there !

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