SBD/November 8, 2012/Facilities

U.S. Cellular Field Name Will Stay Despite Mobile Company Selling Chicago Market To Sprint

U.S. Cellular signed a 20-year naming-rights deal with the White Sox in '03
The naming rights of the White Sox' ballpark "took center stage Wednesday after U.S. Cellular Corp. announced it would sell its spectrum in the Chicago market to Sprint Nextel Corp.," according to Anna Marie Kukec of the Illinois DAILY HERALD. Sprint spokesperson Scott Sloat said that the company is "acquiring spectrum and customers from U.S. Cellular in Chicago and other markets, and is not purchasing or involved in its marketing rights or initiatives." Asked if Sprint will consider changing the name of the ballpark in the future, Sloat said, “All I can tell you is it isn’t part of this transaction." U.S. Cellular Senior VP/Marketing & CMO Dave Kimbell "confirmed that 'the Cell' likely will continue." He said, "Our naming rights to the ballpark are not a part of this deal with Sprint. The White Sox are a great partner and we look forward to continuing our relationship with them.” White Sox Dir of PR Lou Hernandez "confirmed there are no plans to change the name of the ballpark" (Illinois DAILY HERALD, 11/8). IEG Senior VP/Content Strategy Jim Andrews said that U.S. Cellular, which in '03 signed a 20-year naming-rights contract with the White Sox, "likely couldn't drop out of the deal even if it wanted to." He said that stadium naming-rights contracts signed in more recent years "are more likely to have flexible options compared to contracts signed when U.S. Cellular inked its deal" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 11/8). Meanwhile, U.S. Cellular said that its "consumer experience" center at the ballpark "will be staying in place." In Chicago, Wailin Wong notes the company "operates 116 retail stores in the Chicago area, but the U.S. Cellular Field location is not included in that total because no products are sold there" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 11/8). U.S Cellular also holds naming rights to four arenas in Milwaukee; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Bloomington, Ill.; and Asheville, N.C. (THE DAILY).
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