Philips Arena expected to get new name when current deal expires

An artist’s rendering of what the  renovations at Philips Arena will look like when completed.

An artist’s rendering of what the renovations at Philips Arena will look like when completed.

Philips Arena is expected to get a new name after the Hawks’ 20-year naming-rights deal with technology company Philips expires following the 2018-19 NBA season.

Hawks CEO Steve Koonin declined to comment when reached Thursday on a report by industry publication Venues Now that Netherlands-based Philips has decided not to renew the deal, but he acknowledged that likelihood in an October interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Philips largely exited the consumer electronics business in 2013 and has transitioned to a health technology and lighting company with less need for an expensive sports naming-rights deal.

“They’re coming up in late 2019,” Koonin said in October of the arena’s naming rights. “We’re getting ready to go out and see the market. With all the things that are being contemplated in downtown renovation, we want to have everything set in place (before proceeding).”

That was a reference to proposed development of the “Gulch” area, the tangle of parking lots and railbeds near the downtown Atlanta arena. The area has been pitched, among many others, as a possible site of a second headquarters for Amazon.

Philips had little to say about the Atlanta arena Thursday.

“Philips has a contract in place with Philips Arena until 2019,” company spokeswoman Silvie Casanova said by email, “and the company does not speculate on future contracts.”

The arena is in the midst of a two-year, $192.5-million makeover that is scheduled to be completed by the start of the 2018-19 NBA season, which will be the final season of the current naming-rights deal.

Los Angeles-based developer CIM Group, founded by Richard Ressler, brother of Hawks principal owner Tony Ressler, has crafted a plan for a live-work-play community near the arena. Such a development in the Gulch area could significantly enhance the value of the arena's naming rights.

The Hawks and Philips signed a 20-year, $185-million deal before the arena opened in 1999. It was among the largest naming-rights deals in U.S. sports at the time, and 19 years later it remains an upper-echelon deal for the Hawks.

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