Special to NYSportsJournalism.com
April 28, 2016: The NHL's Detroit Red Wings have a new naming rights holder for their new arena, and they didn't have to look too far.
Little Caesars pizza chain, which was founded in 1969 by Mike and Marian Ilitch, has signed a 20-year naming rights agreement — averaging more than $6.25 million per year, according to the company — for naming and various other rights to a 20,000+ seat downtown Detroit arena that in 2017-18 will become home for the Red Wings, owned by Olympia Entertainment, a Detroit-based company under the auspices of Mike and Marian Ilitch.
The Red Wings have played in Joe Louis Arena since the building opened in 1979.
"This sponsorship is another major investment by the Ilitch companies in Detroit, its great people and its comeback story. It's a proud day for Little Caesars, the Detroit Red Wings, our community, and for my parents Mike and Marian Ilitch," Christopher Ilitch, president and CEO for Ilitch Holdings, Inc. (and son of Mike and Marian Ilitch), said in a statement. "To have their first business as the namesake of this building in their beloved hometown is an amazing tribute to their careers and their love for the people here."
Little Caesars Arena will be part of a planned 50 square blocks of "mixed-used development" known as The District Detroit, which is undergoing renovation, including more than 200,000 square feet of office and retail space immediately surrounding it.
According to Olympia Entertainment, a third party analysis has estimated that The District Detroit would generate $2.1 billion in economic impact for the city, region and state of Michigan.
In addition to naming rights, Little Caesars will get branding on the roof, exterior, at entrances and at center ice of the arena; and Little Caesars will become the official Detroit Red Wings Web site and social media presenting sponsor starting with the 2017-18 NHL season.
According to David Scrivano, president and CEO for Little Caesars, "As we continue to add stores in more countries across the globe, and as we prepare to expand our world headquarters campus right here in The District Detroit to accommodate our growth, now is the perfect time to sign on as a naming rights partner for what is going to be one of the world's premier sports and entertainment destinations.
"This sponsorship will give us broader visibility than we've ever had before, and we couldn't be more excited about this amazing investment in our brand, right down the street from our headquarters campus in the city we love," said Scrivano.
Olympia Entertainment owns and operates Detroit's Fox Theatre, City Theatre and books and operates Joe Louis Arena and books Comerica Park. Olympia Entertainment also handles business operations for the Detroit Red Wings and collaborates with the Detroit Tigers baseball franchise and other Ilitch companies.
"Now is the perfect time to sign on as a naming rights partner for what is going to be one of the world's premier sports and entertainment destinations."
Other Ilitch companies include: Ilitch Holdings, Inc., Little Caesars Pizza, Blue Line Foodservice Distribution, Champion Foods, Detroit Red Wings, Little Caesars Pizza Kit Fundraising Program and Olympia Development.
In addition, Mike Ilitch owns the Detroit Tigers, and Marian Ilitch owns MotorCity Casino Hotel.
According to Tom Wilson, president and CEO for Olympia Entertainment, "There's been quite the buzz about what company would have its brand aligned with this best-in-class facility and the storied Detroit Red Wings franchise, and we know that Little Caesars is the perfect fit for this arena and everything it represents for our hockey club, our organization, this community and our great city."
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