Times Union Center to get new name; newspaper declines to renew contract

Times Union Center front entrance.

Times Union Center front entrance.

ALBANY — The former Knickerbocker Arena will get a fourth name in its fourth decade of operation.

The Times Union newspaper announced Wednesday that it won’t extend its naming rights agreement on the downtown Albany sports/performance/event venue that has borne its name since 2007.

The agreement expires Thursday night but the county-owned facility will continue to be called the Times Union Center through the end of the year as new proposals are sought for naming rights.

The facility was built in the late 1980s at a cost of $69 million. A Frank Sinatra concert in January 1990 was the first public event held in the new Knickerbocker Arena.

In 1997, it became the Pepsi Arena. In 2006, the Colonie-based newspaper bought the naming rights for 10 years, then extended the deal for five more years in 2016.

Such agreements provide money for a venue’s owner and visibility for the sponsor. In this case, the newspaper also gained traffic on its website.

The Times Union, part of the national Hearst media empire, was paying $350,000 a year for the right to put its name on the venue.

Publisher and CEO George R. Hearst III said Wednesday the newspaper appreciates its 15-year partnership with the county but has decided to expand its visibility in other ways.

It said it would continue to sponsor events such as the Aurora Games and the Home Expo at the arena.

Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy thanked the newspaper for its support and said a request for proposals for naming rights would be issued shortly.

So unless it reverts to “Knickerbocker,” the arena soon will have its fourth name.

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