Sears name disappearing …

The Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates will be renamed NOW Arena. (Chris Walker/Chicago Tribune)

First Sears Tower became Willis Tower. Now Sears Centre Arena, near the retailer’s Hoffman Estates headquarters, is being renamed NOW Arena.

Now Health Group, a Bloomingdale-based natural products manufacturer, has inked an $11.25 million, 15-year deal with the village of Hoffman Estates to take over naming rights to the arena.

Sears’ name has been on the 11,000-seat concert, event and sports venue since it opened in 2006. In October 2018, days before the retailer sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, it signed a $1.8 million deal to keep its name on the arena through 2022.

Sears’ former CEO Edward Lampert and his hedge fund created a new company, Transformco, to buy Sears and Kmart out of bankruptcy in 2019.

After making the first $600,000 annual payment to keep the Sears name on the arena, Transformco reached an agreement with Hoffman Estates to end the deal early, said Mayor Bill McLeod. Now Health Group had already expressed interest in the naming rights, and will take over Sept. 1.

The arena has been quieter than usual since COVID-19 put big gatherings on hold, with drive-by graduations in the parking lot replacing its usual events.

Still, the arena had been doing well in the months leading up to the pandemic, McLeod said.

“I think the long-term future is going to be fine if we can just get through this,” he said.

The 52-year-old family-owned company makes supplements, sports nutrition products, natural foods and health and beauty products. Since the mid-1990s, it has grown from about 75 employees to about 900 full-time employees at its Bloomingdale headquarters and a manufacturing facility and distribution center in the Chicago area.

Now Health Group CEO Jim Emme said the arena would continue to host family entertainment, high school graduations, concerts and sporting events.

“As a company that values family and community first, this partnership couldn’t be a better fit,” Emme said in a news release.