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Home-grown Smoothie King gets naming rights to N.O. Arena

10th February 2014   ·   0 Comments

When it was time to finally find a company to buy the naming rights of the New Orleans Arena, the owner of the New Orleans Pelicans didn’t have to look very far.

Tom Benson and Smoothie King owner Wan Kim on Thursday announced a multi-year agreement reached between the Pelicans and Smoothie King to name the New Orleans Arena the “Smoothie King Center.”

“Smoothie King and the NBA are a perfect fit,” said Wan Kim, CEO of Smoothie King which created the original nutritional smoothie in 1973. “Both organizations are global brands that continue to grow in status and stature. Smoothie King supports the NBA and the New Orleans Pelicans franchise, and we think this partnership reflects our joint interests in nutrition, health and athletics from an international to a local perspective.”

New Orleans Pelicans and Saints Owner/Chairman of the Board Tom Benson said, “When we purchased the franchise and became the Pelicans, we were establishing a new winning tradition for our hometown NBA team,” said Benson, who also owns the New Orleans Saints who play next door to the arena in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. “Intro­ducing our home court as the Smoothie King Center is one of the goals we set when we purchased the team and we’re excited to partner with a locally-incepted company in Smoothie King. They are an international brand with more than 600 locations in the United States and Asia and they have experienced that growth while remaining local. The NBA, Smoothie King, and the Pelicans are committed to excellence on and off the court.”

“This is an exciting time for the franchise as we introduce the Smoothie King Center and prepare to host the 2014 NBA All-Star Game, where New Orleans will once again be an international stage to host the league’s most exciting event of the season,” Pelicans owner/Vice Chairman of the Board Rita Benson LeBlanc said last week. “As a venue, the Smoothie King Center will continue to be enhanced with custom, state-of-the-art improvements into next season. The Smoothie King Center will complement the recent renovation of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and Champions Square, giving fans three of the premier venues for sports and entertainment. In addition, both the Pelicans and Smoothie King brands are passionate about healthy living and supporting athletics at all levels. We look forward to working together to enhance the quality of life of all our collective fans.”

“We are thrilled to have a hometown company supporting both the New Orleans Pelicans and one of our premier event facilities,” New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said Thursday.

“This exciting partnership with Smoothie King will help promote the ongoing events we welcome to our city every month starting with the upcoming 2014 NBA All-Star Game.”

The naming-rights agreement between the Pelicans, the State of Louisiana and Smoothie King is for 10 years. A new Smoothie King Center logo will adorn the roof of the building and the new Smoothie King Center name and logo will appear on the facility’s exterior façade, on the Pelicans home basketball court, the team’s scoreboard and in numerous locations throughout the facility.

With the NBA hosting its annual All-Star Game and associated activities in New Orleans the weekend of February 14-16, fans attending the newly-named Smoothie King Center will be greeted by a 20-foot high Smoothie King cup at the building’s main entrance on Gravier Street across from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Smoothie King opened its first location in 1973 in New Orleans, La. and started as the first franchised smoothie bar/health food store in the United States in 1989. Smoothie King currently has more than 600 units operating in 32 states, the Caymans and the Republic of Korea and Singapore. In 2013 Smoothie King was ranked #1 by Entrepreneur magazine in the juice bar category for the 19th year, and is ranked #104 overall on the magazine’s top 500 franchise list.

After considering a move to Texas, Smoothie King moved its headquarters from Covington to Metairie in 2012.

This article originally published in the February 10, 2014 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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