You probably should’ve seen this one coming. The arena formerly known as the Ford Center is now the arena formerly known as Oklahoma City Arena. When the season kicks off at home Nov. 4 (hopefully), you’ll be going to Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Chesapeake of course is one of the Thunder’s biggest corporate sponsors with chairman Aubrey McClendon being a part-owner of the team. Natural fit there, I’d say.
Clay Bennett on the change: “On behalf of the entire Thunder organization, we are extremely proud to enhance our already strong partnership with Chesapeake Energy. 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.”
So, how much did it cost? According to the team, it’s a 12-year naming rights agreement and has an initial annual cost of $3.0 million with a 3.0 percent 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.
I have to say, Chesapeake Energy Center rolls off the tongue a bit better than Chesapeake Energy Arena. But whatever. It’s really the Thunderdome or Loud City, depending on your preference and that’s really what matters. Of maybe we can brainstorm a slick nickname — The Peake, Peake Arena, Aubrey World, The McClendome, and such and such.
Regardless, see you at the CEA this year. Hopefully.