In 1993, Mariucci Arena debuted as the new home for Golden Gophers hockey. Its name honored John "Grandfather of Minnesota Hockey" Mariucci.
On Monday, the University of Minnesota unveiled a new name for the Minneapolis ice rink: 3M Arena at Mariucci. Its fresh branding honors a 14-year, $11.2 million sponsorship agreement with 3M Company, the Maplewood-based multinational responsible for Post-it notes.
At press time, the updated name stood a .005 percent chance of ever been used in real-world conversation.
Take a deep, deep breath, and dive into the platitudinal majesty of this prepared statement from U of M Athletics Director Mark Coyle.
"Today’s announcement brings together three names instantly recognizable across Minnesota --Mariucci, Gopher Hockey and 3M -- and that’s certainly exciting."
Oh god ... OK, another deep breath.
"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."
Oof, we're almost done ...
"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."
Monday's press release also included quotes from 3M VP/CMO Paul Acito ("Keeping the Mariucci name on the building is an important element of this agreement") and John Mariucci Jr. ("Our father and grandfather was a lifelong Minnesotan, and would have been thrilled to see 3M showing so much support for the University and for men's hockey.")
In May, when rumors of renaming Mariucci popped up online, the U of M stated it had "no plans to remove names like Mariucci, Williams, etc." from campus venues. Marshall Tanick -- a lawyer and former president of the U's Alumni Society -- expressed concern at the time, stating, "the hockey rink will lose some of its charm when its new appellation denotes a big-money contributor, rather than the iconic hockey legend."
In 2005, the U inked a 25-year, $35 million deal with Wayzata-based TCF Bank for the naming rights to nearby TCF Bank Stadium.
The Gophers men's hockey team will christen 3M Arena at Mariucci on Oct. 1 with a season-opening exhibition game against Alberta. Minnesota kicks off Big 10 play Oct. 13-14 against Penn State.
In semi-related news, City Pages slotted 3M into the dreaded "Ugly" category of our recent hater's guide to Minnesota's Fortune 500 companies. Here's noted CP columnist Mike Mullen:
3M (No. 94, $30.9 billion): Rid your mind of the image of quirky geeks inventing Scotch tape and the Post-it Note. 3M has been sued for contaminating water with potentially cancer-causing chemicals in New York, Alabama, and Minnesota. State Attorney General Lori Swanson has already spent seven years in court, accusing 3M of exposing upward of 125,000 Twin Cities residents to these chemicals, long after the company knew the risks.
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