OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma City Arena now has a new name as the Oklahoma City Thunder and Chesapeake Energy Corporation jointly announced a long-term naming rights partnership Friday renaming the downtown arena the "Chesapeake Energy Arena."
"This is an exciting day for Chesapeake and its employees. We are thrilled that the arena will bear the name of our company," said Chesapeake Senior Vice President of Human and Corporate Resources Martha Burger.
The initial cost of the12-year naming rights agreement is $3 million with a 3.0% annual escalation. The agreement includes Chesapeake branding throughout the building including on the basketball court, prominent premium placement on the high-definition scoreboard and new state-of-the-art interior and exterior digital signage. Most of the signage will be in place by the start of the Thunder's 2011-12 season.
"On behalf of the entire Thunder organization, we are extremely proud to enhance our already strong partnership with Chesapeake Energy," said Thunder Chairman Clayton Bennett. "Besides being a leader in the national and international energy industry, Chesapeake is a dynamic business and community leader in Oklahoma. Together with the Thunder's commitment to the community, it makes the naming rights partnership a perfect fit. The Thunder looks forward to many exciting years ahead playing in Chesapeake Energy Arena in downtown Oklahoma City."
Besides being home to the Thunder, the arena regularly hosts a variety of concerts, sporting and other world-class events, attracting more than a million guests per year.
"Chesapeake Energy Arena and the Thunder are both strong reminders of the incredible progress our city has made in the past decade as well as the energy our citizens have demonstrated to keep building an even better and stronger Oklahoma City in the years ahead," said Burger.
Chesapeake is one of the Thunder's five Founding Partners, which also include Devon Energy Corporation (NYSE:DVN), MidFirst Bank, The Oklahoma Publishing Company and SandRidge Energy, Inc.
Burger added, "The naming rights also provide a powerful natural gas branding opportunity for our company, particularly when you consider the national, and even global, reach of the Thunder. To see Chesapeake's distinctive and recognizable blue flame logo as a visually prominent part of downtown Oklahoma City supports our commitment to community and our corporate message that the abundance of natural gas offers our nation the best opportunity to achieve energy independence."
The arena was opened in June 2002 and was originally named the Ford Center before being named the Oklahoma City Arena nearly one year ago.
The arena was the premier project of Oklahoma City's MAPS improvement program passed in 1993 to finance new and upgraded sports, entertainment, cultural and convention facilities with a 1-cent temporary sales tax. In March 2008, Oklahoma City voters overwhelmingly approved another temporary 1-cent sales tax to fund significant upgrades to the arena.
"We are pleased to be actively participating in the continued revitalization and transformation of downtown Oklahoma City currently led by the Devon Energy Center, SandRidge Energy Commons, Continental Resources, the Boathouse District, Myriad Gardens, Project 180, MAPS 3 and the City's ongoing renovation of Chesapeake Energy Arena," said Burger.