Hoffman Estates officials expect to vote Monday on a new agreement that would retain the 11,000-seat Sears Centre Arena's original name through at least Aug. 31, 2022.
As well as maintaining the public's familiarity with the arena's brand and marketing, the renewed naming rights also demonstrate beyond lip service that struggling, Hoffman Estates-based Sears Holdings Corp. has confidence in its long-term future, Mayor Bill McLeod said.
"I think that they have some optimism that they're going to be able to turn it around," he said. "We're very pleased that they re-upped."
Village Manager Jim Norris concurred.
"It's my opinion that it's their belief that they're going to come out the other side," Norris said of Sears. "They may not look the same as they did 10 years ago, but they fully believe there will be an entity and it will be located in Hoffman Estates. That's what they're telling us."
The three-year, $1.8 million agreement involves exactly the same financial terms as the previous one. But the new version also provides for a stronger promotional presence for Sears Holdings inside the arena, including development of an SYW (Shop Your Way) Lounge, Norris said.
Sears Holdings released a statement Friday on the proposed agreement.
"Sears is proud to call the village of Hoffman Estates home," it reads. "With this renewed partnership of the Sears Centre Arena, we are excited to bring a new Shop Your Way experience to members visiting the arena. We continue to develop new and innovative ways to serve our members and we look forward to enhancing their event experience when attending family entertainment, sporting, cultural events and Windy City Bulls games at the Sears Centre Arena."
The Sears Centre name originally came about because Sears Holdings was a business partner in the endeavor through the MadKatStep LLC.
The company provided 35 acres and $10 million to enable the arena's construction. Its business partner was the Ryan Companies.
After the arena opened in 2006, initial use didn't meet expectations and MadKatStep's involvement ended in 2009 amid financial problems.
The village then took over ownership and the debt of the arena and hired the firm now called Spectra to manage it. But Sears continued making annual payments to retain the name through the venue's 10th anniversary as agreed.
In 2016, Sears and the village negotiated a more traditional naming-rights agreement through Aug. 31, 2019. As with that agreement, an annual payment of $600,000 is due 15 months in advance of the period it covers.
The terms of the renewed agreement were being negotiated up until recent weeks. But if Sears had not been interested in keeping the naming rights, its deadline to notify the village would have been in the spring, Norris said. That was to provide the village ample time to seek out another naming-rights partner before August 2019.
The draft agreement will first be considered at a special meeting of the village board's finance committee at 7 p.m. Monday at village hall, 1900 Hassell Road. A special village board meeting to consider final approval will follow immediately after.