Hoffman Estates village board members voted 6-1 Monday to approve a plan allowing the transition of the 14-year-old Sears Centre Arena into the NOW Arena this fall to be accompanied by a major increase in the number and size of its signs, including for additional sponsors.
The plan's addition of 11 new sign areas on the walls, windows and roof of the arena led to a discussion before the vote on how much was too much.
Trustee Gary Stanton said his vote against the plan was largely based on his feeling that a new sponsorship sign area in the front window could create too busy a presentation.
While the board's approval enables the full amount of sign space requested to be used, officials said the content of those sponsorship signs on the village-owned arena would be reviewed and permitted administratively.
"Our goal is not to turn the building into more or less a NASCAR vehicle," said Mike Czopek, director of partnerships for the arena. "We want to do this with the right taste to make this building a premium-looking building."
Trustee Gary Pilafas commended the arena staff for finding places on the building for future signs he said he would never have thought of himself.
But while he agreed that the arena shouldn't be made ugly, Pilafas argued it should be allowed to maximize its revenue potential with sponsors.
The village board last month approved a 15-year, $11.25 million naming-rights agreement with Bloomingdale-based NOW Health Group Inc. to re-christen the Sears Centre Arena with its own brand name on Sept. 1.
Trustees expressed little concern with the planned signs that would contain the arena's new name alone.
Village Manager Jim Norris said the hope is to complete the transition of the building's name and appearance as soon after Sept. 1 as possible.
NOW Health Group Inc., which will be financially responsible for the transition in addition to the money it's paying for the naming rights, is eager to order the signs, which are expected to take eight to 10 weeks to prepare, Norris said.
The only illuminated signs on the property would be the two current ones -- on the southeast wall of the arena and the tollway marquee.