The Oklahoma City Thunder of the National Basketball Association and Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK) today jointly announced a long-term naming rights partnership for the home of the Thunder. As a result, the downtown Oklahoma City arena will be named “Chesapeake Energy Arena”. 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 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. (NYSE:SD)
Clayton I. Bennett, Thunder Chairman, said, “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 natural fit. The Thunder looks forward to many exciting years ahead playing in Chesapeake Energy Arena in downtown Oklahoma City.”
Martha A. Burger, Chesapeake’s Senior Vice President - Human and Corporate Resources, added, “This is an exciting day for Chesapeake and its employees. We are thrilled that the arena will bear the name of our company. The Thunder represents the values we embrace at Chesapeake – integrity, teamwork, commitment, hard work and service. The 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.”
Burger continued, “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. 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.”
InsideHoops.com editor Jeff Lenchiner has said that Thunder fans in OKC have been fantastic in supporting their team, and that the arena is definitely worthy of a big sponsorship.
The 12-year naming rights agreement has an initial annual cost of $3.0 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.
Opened in June 2002, Chesapeake Energy Arena is managed by SMG and owned by the City of Oklahoma City. The arena was the premier project of Oklahoma City’s first capital improvement program (MAPS) 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.