Sears Names Hoffman Estates Arena

A proposed sports and entertainment center in the Chicago suburb of Hoffman Estates will be named Sears Centre under a $10 million naming rights agreement, even though there’s still debate over how the project will be funded.

Village of Hoffman Estates officials, Sears Roebuck & Co. and developer Ryan Companies US Inc. have partnered to build the $60 million project at a 36-acre site donated by Sears.

At issue is $50 million in general obligation bonds that Hoffman Estates will pitch in, along with taking a first mortgage on the arena. The bonds are to be repaid through revenue generated by the facility.

Detractors claim it’s a bad plan because taxpayers will be stuck with the debt should the facility fail. Village officials say the plan has safeguards to protect taxpayers should arena revenues be less than anticipated, according to Chicago’s Daily Herald.

The 10-year naming rights deal coincided with the announcement that a United Hockey League team will call the new arena home beginning with the 2006-2007 season.

The 11,000-capacity facility, tentatively scheduled to open in 2006, is expected to draw 750,000 people to more than 135 events a year. Seating can be configured from 6,000 for theatrical performances to 11,000 for concerts.

The venue is being planned to fill the local talent void left when the 25,000-capacity Poplar Creek Music Theatre, one of the nation’s original sheds, was shuttered in 1994 and later torn down.