The United Center is an indoor sports arena located in the Near West Side community area of Chicago. It is named after its corporate sponsor, United Airlines. The United Center is home to both the Chicago Bulls of the National Basketball Association and the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League. The plan to build the arena was created by the late Bill Wirtz and Jerry Reinsdorf, the owners of the two sports teams. The United Center's predecessor was the indoor Chicago Stadium, the original "Madhouse on Madison", which was demolished after the newer arena opened for business on August 18, 1994. A statue of Michael Jordan, "The Spirit", is located on the east side of the arena, while a statue of various Blackhawks sits to the north on Madison Street, where the Chicago Stadium was located. Despite being merged with Continental Airlines in May 2010, the original United Airlines logo and United name still remain with the arena. United Airlines pays about $1.8 million per year until 2014 for its naming rights.
The United Center, which is currently owned by Rocky Wirtz and Reinsdorf, covers 960,000 square feet (89,187 m²) and is located on a 46-acre (19 ha) parcel, west of the Chicago Loop. The arena is the largest in the United States in physical size, though not in capacity. Its exterior bears a striking resemblance to that of Chicago Stadium. It seats 19,717 (not including standing room) for hockey (highest attendance at a Blackhawks game in 2010 was 22,428 vs. Detroit), 20,917 (not including standing room) for basketball (highest attendance at a Bulls game in 2010 was 23,129 vs. Cleveland) and up to 23,500 for concerts. The United Center hosts over 200 events per year and has drawn over 20 million visitors since its opening. It is known for routinely meeting and exceeding seating capacity for Bulls and Blackhawks games.
United Center's acoustics were designed to amplify the noise level in order to recreate "The Roar" – the din of noise that made Chicago Stadium famous, especially during hockey games. During hockey season, an Allen Organ that is a replica of the old arena's famous Barton organ is used; recreating the old organ's notes took two years.
As of the 2009 renovation, the stadium has 169 executive suites on three levels.
In addition to more than 80 Bulls and Blackhawks games each year, the United Center has hosted other sporting events such as University of Illinois basketball, the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament (from the first tournament in 1998 to 2001, then in odd-numbered years from 2003 to 2007, before the tournament moved permanently to Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis), the Men's NCAA Basketball Tournament (hosted four times, including 2011), the Roundball Classic, and the Great Eight Classic.
U2 filmed two concerts during the American leg of their Vertigo Tour for the concert film Vertigo 2005: Live from Chicago. The Dave Matthews Band released Live in Chicago 12.19.98 as a live album and a bootleg video of the webcast of the performance is widely in circulation among DMB fans.
The United Center has also provided a Chicago home for Cirque du Soleil, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus and Disney on Ice.
The arena was the Bulls' home during their second run of three consecutive championships, hosting the Template:Nbafy, Template:Nbafy, and 1998 NBA Finals. The Bulls won the 1996 and 1997 series in the sixth game at home, but won the 1998 series at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, which is now known as the EnergySolutions Arena.
The United Center was also the site of the World Wrestling Federation pay-per-view SummerSlam in 1994 – the first major event held inside the building. It also hosted the last of World Championship Wrestling's annual Spring Stampede pay-per-views in 2000.
The United Center was also the site of the 1996 Democratic National Convention.
On the weekend of March 5–6, 2011, the Professional Bull Riders made their Built Ford Tough Series debut at the United Center. It was their third Chicago-area visit, having previously visited Rosemont's Allstate Arena in 2006 and 2008. The event at the United Center presented a unique scenario in that instead of dirt, white stone was used to cover the arena floor.
The Blackhawks announced that hockey legends Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita would receive bronze statues in their honor outside of the United Center during the 2011–2012 NHL season.
The Illinois State High School Hockey Championships are hosted at the United Center yearly for the Blackhawk Cup.
On May 17, 2011, Oprah The Farewell Season: Oprah's Surprise Spectacular was taped at the United Center. The program aired on television on May 23 and 24, 2011.
On June 17 and 18, 2011, boy bands New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys, also known as NKOTBSB, performed for two sold out concerts.
300 Level renovations
New for the 2009-10 season, the United Center’s 300 Level features a renovated concourse with 144 flat screen televisions powered by LG, new food and beverage stations above select seating sections and two new bars that open up to panoramic views of the arena. During the 2010 off-season, two additional bars with panoramic views of the arena were added along with the other two.
he United Center includes: [[File:HawksvBJ.jpg|thumb|right|225px|The United Center's configuration for Blackhawks hockey games.]
- Exciting graphics and signs highlighting “The Madhouse on Madison.”
- A variety of new menu items provided by the United Center’s new food and beverage provider, Levy Restaurants.
- A new concession stand and seating area located in Section 326 called “Backstage. ”This area replicates the atmosphere of being backstage at a United Center concert and will include photos of music acts that played at the United Center along with a specialized menu from Levy Restaurants.
- New concession stands and bars located at the top of the 300 Level on the north side of the arena to provide fans sitting in that area with easy access to food and beverage service.
- Two new novelty areas carrying merchandise unique to The Madhouse on Madison.
- New concourse food stations with increased seating.
- New video systems featuring photography, video and animation on the concourse walls which will create images and specialized programming for each individual event.
The following banners hang from the rafters of the United Center honoring past and present Bulls and Blackhawks.
Chicago Bulls Retired Numbers
- 4 Jerry Sloan
- 10 Bob Love
- 23 Michael Jordan
- 33 Scottie Pippen
- Coach Phil Jackson
- General Manager Jerry Krause
- 1974-75 Midwest Division Champions
- 1990-91,1991-92,1992-93,1995-96*,1996-97,1997-98 Central Division Champions
- 1990-91,1991-92,1992-93,1995-96,1996-97,1997-98 Eastern Conference Champions
- 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998 NBA World Champions
- A banner with the number 72 is hung below the 1996 division title to denote the Bulls all time record 72-10 season.
Chicago Blackhawks Retired Numbers
- 1 Glenn Hall
- 3 Pierre Pilote
- 3 Keith Magnuson
- 9 Bobby Hull
- 18 Denis Savard
- 21 Stan Mikita
- 35 Tony Esposito
- 1969-70 East Division Champions
- 1970-71,1971-72,1972-73 West Division Champions
- 1975-76,1977-78,1978-79,1979-80 Smythe Division Champions
- 1982-83, 1985-86, 1989-90,1990-91, 1992-93 Norris Division Champions
- 2009-10 Central Division Champions
- 1970-71, 1972-73, 1991-92 Campbell Conference Champions
- 2009-10 Western Conference Champions
- 1990-91 Presidents' Trophy Champions
- 1934, 1938, 1961, 2010 Stanley Cup Champions
- ↑ "Stadium naming rights". ESPN.com. January 14, 2008. http://www.espn.go.com/sportsbusiness/s/stadiumnames.html.
- ↑ "United Center information" (PDF). Chicago Bulls Media Guide. NBA.com. http://www.nba.com/media/bulls/11_media_0405.pdf#page=9. Retrieved 2007-08-19.
- ↑ http://www.pbrnow.com/release/?id=6771