Well it happened. We told you about the possibility that the naming rights to Mariucci Arena could be sold by the University of Minnesota back in May. Monday morning, the U announced that 3M has agreed to a 14-year, $11.2 Million sponsorship of Gopher Athletics that includes the naming rights to Mariucci Arena. The place Gopher Hockey plays will now be named 3M Arena at Mariucci.
Minnesota Athletics Director Mark Coyle gave the standard statement extolling the virtues of the deal for the university as a whole and stating that the 3M cash will be going to pay for the Athlete’s Village:
“Today’s announcement brings together three names instantly recognizable across Minnesota – Mariucci, Gopher Hockey and 3M – and that’s certainly exciting. This sponsorship will have a broad impact across our athletics department by supporting construction of our new Athletes Village. By partnering with us, 3M is investing in every current and future Gopher student-athlete, the future leaders of our state. 3M will be a big reason why each of those young men and women have a first-class experience at Minnesota that prepares them for the rest of their lives.”
The good news is that it appears the deal has the support of the Mariucci Family according to a statement by John Mariucci Jr.
Our father and grandfather was a life-long Minnesotan, and would have been thrilled to see 3M showing so much support for the University and for men's hockey. To have 3M, one of Minnesota's most respected and well-known brands, be a part of the rich history of Gopher hockey and the Mariucci legacy is exciting. We are happy that 3M and the U felt it was important to continue honoring our father and grandfather's legacy and kept the Mariucci name tied to the arena. It's a privilege for our family to be so closely associated with two of Minnesota's most recognizable and important institutions."
The last point is key. The U will be keeping the Mariucci name on the arena. They aren’t that stupid PR-wise. It will give Gopher fans an option—call it by the new official name 3M Arena at Mariucci, or just keep calling it Mariucci Arena like Gopher fans have been doing since 1985.
GoAUpher wrote a post when this was first brought up back in May and it appeared that while not a lot of fans welcomed the change they were resigned to the fact that this is how major athletics works in this day in age and that it was inevitable. Frankly, it could have been a lot worse. 3M is a well respected Minnesota company that while awkward is not an embarrassment to have on an arena. They are paying a significant amount of cash for the deal. It will be interesting to see whether Gopher Hockey fans are bitter that the cash is going to the Athlete’s Village project to benefit the university as a whole rather than be earmarked for the long rumored Mariucci Arena renovations that include decreasing the size of the ice sheet to closer to NHL dimensions.
It’s likely that the majority of Gopher fans will continue to call the arena Mariucci. But you can be sure that the University will be shoving the name down our throats. The exterior signage appears fairly demure as the rendering from the U shows. Most Gopher fans probably won’t notice a significant difference until the Gophers take the ice for their first games next season—the Gophers host Alberta for an exhibition game on October 1 before Penn State comes in to kick off the Big Ten schedule on October 14-15. But you can be sure there will be a few double takes when Jamie welcomes everyone to 3M Arena at Mariucci for the first time.
So what say you? Let us know what you think.
What will you call the place Gopher Hockey plays next fall?
This poll is closed
3M Arena at Mariucci
The Post-It Note
Something entirely different (leave in comments)