United Center

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United Center
"The UC"
"The Madhouse on Madison"
"The House That Jordan Built"
United Center 2011 Logo.png
United Center Exterior.JPG
The United Center in 2014
Location 1901 West Madison Street
Chicago, Illinois, United States 60612
Coordinates 41°52′50″N 87°40′27″W / 41.88056°N 87.67417°W / 41.88056; -87.67417Coordinates: 41°52′50″N 87°40′27″W / 41.88056°N 87.67417°W / 41.88056; -87.67417
Broke ground April 6, 1992[1]
Built 1992–1994
Opened

August 18, 1994

Height 300 feet tall
Renovated 2009–2010 (300 Level)
2014 (exterior)
Owner United Center Joint Venture
(Chicago Blackhawks 50%/Chicago Bulls 50%)
Operator United Center Joint Venture
Construction cost $175 million
($278 million in 2014 dollars[2])
Architect HOK Sport (now Populous)
W.E. Simpson Company
Project manager International Facilities Group, LLC.[3]
Structural engineer Thornton Tomasetti
Services engineer Flack + Kurtz[4]
General contractor Morse Diesel/Huber Hunt & Nichols[5]
Capacity Concerts: 23,500
Basketball: 20,917
with standing room at least 23,129[6]
Hockey: 19,717
with standing room at least 22,428[7]
Field dimensions 960,000 square feet (89,000 m2)
Tenants
Chicago Bulls (NBA) (1994–present)
Chicago Blackhawks (NHL) (1995–present)
The United Center during a Bulls basketball game

United Center is an indoor sports arena located in Chicago, Illinois. The United Center is home to both the Chicago Bulls of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League (NHL). The arena is named after its corporate sponsor, United Airlines.

The plan to build the arena was created by Blackhawks owner Bill Wirtz and Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf. The United Center's predecessor was the indoor Chicago Stadium, the original "Madhouse on Madison", which was demolished after the newer arena opened for business on August 18, 1994. Due to the 1994–95 NHL lockout, the Blackhawks did not move in until January, 1995.

The east side of the stadium features statues of Michael Jordan (known as "The Spirit"), Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita, while a statue of various Blackhawks sits to the north on Madison Street, where the Chicago Stadium was located.

Arena information[edit]

The Bulls and Blackhawks operate the United Center through the United Center Joint Venture, a 50/50 partnership of the two teams. It covers 960,000 square feet (89,187 m²) and is located on a 46-acre (19 ha) parcel, west of the Chicago Loop.[8] The arena is the largest in the United States in physical size, though not in capacity. Its exterior bears a striking resemblance to that of Chicago Stadium. It seats 19,717 (not including standing room) for hockey (highest attendance at a Blackhawks game in 2012 was 22,077 vs. St. Louis), 20,917 (not including standing room) for basketball (highest attendance at a Bulls game in 2012 was 23,028 vs. Miami) and up to 23,500 for concerts. The United Center hosts over 200 events per year and has drawn over 20 million visitors since its opening. It is known for routinely exceeding seating capacity for Bulls and Blackhawks games.

United Center's acoustics were designed to amplify the noise level in order to recreate "The Roar" – the din of noise that made Chicago Stadium famous, especially during hockey games.[9] During hockey season, an Allen Organ that is a replica of the old arena's famous Barton organ is used; recreating the old organ's notes took two years.[10]

As of the 2009-10 renovation, the stadium has 169 executive suites on three levels.[11]

Notable events[edit]

Sporting events[edit]

In addition to more than 80 Bulls and Blackhawks games each year, the United Center has hosted other sporting events such as University of Illinois basketball, the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament (from the first tournament in 1998 to 2001, then in odd-numbered years from 2003 to 2007 and again in 2013,[12][13] the Men's NCAA Basketball Tournament (hosted four times, including 2011), the Roundball Classic, and the Great Eight Classic.

The arena was the Bulls' home during their second run of three consecutive championships, hosting the 1996, 1997, and 1998 NBA Finals. The Bulls won the 1996 and 1997 series in the sixth game at home, but won the 1998 series at the Delta Center, now known as EnergySolutions Arena, in Salt Lake City.

The United Center was also the site of the World Wrestling Federation pay-per-view SummerSlam in 1994 – the first major event held inside the building.[14] It also hosted the last of World Championship Wrestling's annual Spring Stampede pay-per-view in 2000.

The arena has hosted the Stanley Cup Finals twice: in 2010 and 2013. The Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup both times, but on the ice of their opponent in the sixth game of the series (Philadelphia's Wachovia Center in 2010 and Boston's TD Garden in 2013).

United Center's former logo until September 2011.
The United Center's configuration for Blackhawks hockey games.

On the weekend of March 5–6, 2011, the Professional Bull Riders made their Built Ford Tough Series debut at the United Center.[15] It was their third Chicago-area visit, having previously visited Rosemont's Allstate Arena in 2006 and 2008. The event at the United Center presented a unique scenario as instead of dirt, white crushed stone was used to cover the arena floor.

The Blackhawks announced that hockey legends Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita would receive bronze statues in their honor outside of the United Center during the 2011–12 NHL season.[16]

The Illinois State High School Hockey Championships are hosted at the United Center yearly for the Blackhawk Cup.[17]

On January 28, 2012, the Ultimate Fighting Championship held its first nationally televised event at the arena: UFC on Fox. UFC on Fox 2 was the UFC's 2nd live prime-time event on Fox. The headlining fight was former UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion Rashad Evans vs. Phil Davis, with Evans winning by unanimous decision.[18]

Concerts[edit]

United Center plays host to numerous concerts and different musical events

Family events[edit]

The United Center has also provided a Chicago home for Barnum & Bailey Circus and Disney on Ice, which occur once per year; the Bulls and Blackhawks have a tradition of taking a two-week road trip when the circus is in town.[19]

Television events[edit]

On May 17, 2011, Oprah The Farewell Season: Oprah's Surprise Spectacular was taped at the United Center. The program aired on television on May 23 and 24, 2011. Pictures from the event are displayed inside the arena entrance on the wall of Gate 4.[20]

Political events[edit]

The United Center was also the venue of the 1996 Democratic National Convention, where the Democratic Party nominated as its presidential and vice-presidential candidates Bill Clinton and Al Gore, the incumbent holders of the respective offices, who would be re-elected as a result of the general election held that November.

300 Level renovations[edit]

One of the two former "Madhouse" signs of the UC before it was taken down after the 2012-13 season.

New for the 2009-10 season, the United Center’s 300 Level features a renovated concourse with 144 flat screen televisions powered by LG, new food and beverage stations above select seating sections and two new bars that open up to panoramic views of the arena. During the 2010 off-season, two additional bars with panoramic views of the arena were added along with the other two.[21]

The United Center includes:

  • Graphics and signs highlighting "The Madhouse on Madison".
  • A variety of new menu items provided by the United Center’s new food and beverage provider, Levy Restaurants.
  • A new concession stand and seating area located in Section 326 called “Backstage. ”This area replicates the atmosphere of being backstage at a United Center concert and will include photos of music acts that played at the United Center along with a specialized menu from Levy Restaurants.
  • New concession stands and bars located at the top of the 300 Level on the north side of the arena to provide fans sitting in that area with easy access to food and beverage service.
  • Two new novelty areas carrying merchandise unique to "The Madhouse on Madison".
  • New concourse food stations with increased seating.
  • New video systems featuring photography, video and animation on the concourse walls which will create images and specialized programming for each individual event.

Banners[edit]

Just before Game 2 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals at the United Center between the Hawks and the Bostin Bruins.
The United Center's new LED lighting

The following banners hang from the rafters of the United Center honoring past and present Bulls and Blackhawks.

Chicago Bulls Retired Numbers

Championship Banners

Chicago Blackhawks Retired Numbers

Championship Banners

Sponsorship[edit]

United Airlines pays about $1.8 million per year until 2014 for its naming rights.[22] United merged with Continental Airlines in October 2010, retaining the latter's logo and corporate look. The stadium continued to use United's previous logo for the duration of the 2010-11 season. For the 2011-12 season, all the previous United signs were updated with the new logo. Two new lit signs on the east and west ends of the arena saying "United Center" with the new United logo in the middle were revealed below the upper level suites complimenting the former "Madhouse" signs on the north and south sides.

In December, 2013, it was announced that an agreement had been reached to keep United's naming rights for the stadium for another 20 years. The United Center will see a series of updates and upgrades to the interior and exterior of the building. New signage, additional LED boards, and other elements are scheduled to be installed over a four-to-six month period and coincide with the new sponsorship agreement announcement. These efforts are part of the United Center’s ongoing, long-term plans to improve and enhance the fan experience, and it is anticipated they will be formally unveiled in the Spring of 2014.[23] [24]

Seating Capacity[edit]

Concerts

  • 23,500

Basketball

  • 21,711 (1994–2009)
  • 20,917 (2009–Present)
  • 23,129 (With standing room)

Hockey

  • 20,500 (1994–2009)
  • 19,717 (2009–Present)
  • 22,428 (With standing room)

See also[edit]

Gates 2 and 3 on the North side of the United Center.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sullivan, Paul; Reardon, Patrick (April 7, 1992). "Dignitaries Dig in at New Stadium Fete". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 15, 2012. 
  2. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  3. ^ International Facilities Group - United Center
  4. ^ Weiss, Lois (January 4, 1995). "Engineers Mark 25th Anniversary". Real Estate Weekly. Retrieved May 15, 2012. 
  5. ^ United Center - Emporis.com
  6. ^ "Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Chicago Bulls". Chicago Tribune. March 19, 2010. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  7. ^ Associated Press (April 11, 2010). "Red Wings 3, Blackhawks 2, OT". Chicago Blackhawks. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  8. ^ "A Closer Look Inside The United Center". Chicago Tribune. September 7, 1994. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  9. ^ Markus, Robert (September 17, 1994). "Hawks Quiet In Opener". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  10. ^ Smith, Marcia C. (September 7, 1994). "Like Stadium, New Organ Will Be More Versatile". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Premium Seating and Suites at the United Center". Chicago Bulls. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  12. ^ "2013 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament". Big Ten Conference. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Big Ten Tournament History". Big Ten Conference. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Chicago Bulls Media Guide: United Center Information" (PDF). Chicago Bulls. Retrieved August 19, 2007. 
  15. ^ "PBR Announces 2011 BFTS Schedule". Professional Bull Riders. September 21, 2010. Archived from the original on September 28, 2010. Retrieved September 21, 2010. 
  16. ^ Kuc, Chris (October 22, 2011). "Moving Moment for Hull and Mikita". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved October 22, 2011. 
  17. ^ "2010 Blackhawk Cup To Be Decided At The United Center On Friday Night". Chicago Blackhawks. March 23, 2010. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  18. ^ Erickson, Matt (January 28, 2012). "Evans Wins Big 1". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  19. ^ Kuc, Chris (January 28, 2013). "Practices Few and Far Between for Blackhawks". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  20. ^ Rosenthal, Phil (May 18, 2011). "Oprah Winfrey Spectacle sSands Out in a Sea of Farewells". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  21. ^ Vettel, Phil (November 19, 2009). "The United Center's New Concessions Offerings Are Playoff Caliber". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Stadium Naming Rights". ESPN. January 14, 2008. 
  23. ^ "United Center won't be changing its name any time soon". Comcast Sports Net Chicago. December 11, 2013. 
  24. ^ "New 20-year naming rights agreement announced for United Center". Chicago Bulls. December 11, 2013. 

External links[edit]