(CelebrityAccess News Service) – The University of South Carolina and Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company of Columbia have agreed to a naming rights sponsorship for USC's 18,000-seat basketball arena. USC's arena, which opened in November, 2002, will now bear the name The Colonial Center. The announcement came Tuesday afternoon at a press conference at Colonial's headquarters in Columbia.
The naming rights agreement is a 12-year, $5.5 million pact. The agreement also includes exterior and interior signage at the arena, in addition to promotional packages with the Gamecock athletics program that will be available for Colonial.
Since its opening less than a year ago, The Colonial Center has quickly emerged as one of the finest sports and entertainment arenas in the Southeast. After the first quarter of 2003, The Colonial Center ranked 16th worldwide in concert ticket sales. Serving as the home for Gamecock men's and women's basketball, The Colonial Center has already established state attendance records in basketball, indoor concerts and motor sports in its first year of existence. In year one, such major acts as Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Buffett, Elton John & Billy Joel, Kenny Chesney, The Eagles and LL Cool J have appeared at The Colonial Center. In addition, nearly every major touring show in North America has been showcased at The Colonial Center, including Sesame Street Live, Disney On Ice, professional wrestling and the circus. The Colonial Center has provided Columbia and the Midlands community with a class A brand of sports and entertainment unlike ever before featured in the state of South Carolina.
"I am delighted that Carolina and Colonial have signed this agreement, which signifies a partnership between two very visible entities in the Midlands and the state," said Dr. Andrew Sorensen, USC President. "Having Colonial's name on our new arena and being associated with such a highly respected and widely recognized corporation is indeed an honor. With its growing reputation as a venue for major sporting events and concerts that draw thousands of people, the arena will provide Colonial with increased visibility before all kinds of audiences."
The $65 million facility, which was funded in large part by the Athletics Department, is the largest building ever constructed at USC, with more than 330,000 square feet. The Colonial Center is the 10th largest on campus basketball arena in the country.
"The University of South Carolina Athletics Department is pleased to announce the culmination of a vision in the naming of Carolina's arena as The Colonial Center," said Dr. Mike McGee, USC Director of Athletics. "The commitment made by Colonial as the naming rights partner reinforces the facility's growing presence as a leader among entertainment and sports venues in the South. As we announce this partnership with Colonial, we want to also express our great appreciation for all those who have provided the support that has made this building possible."
"The Colonial Center represents a major commitment by Colonial to our community," said Jean Duke, Colonial's President and Chief Financial Officer. "We recognize the importance of this tremendous facility as an athletic and cultural venue for people across the state — in less than a year, the center has emerged as one of the top sports and entertainment venues in the nation. Colonial has been a sponsor of the new arena since it first opened. Now we're building on that partnership by taking a major step forward. The Colonial Center offers us a unique opportunity to help build brand recognition throughout the state and beyond." –by CelebrityAccess Staff Writers