United Center

Chicago Stadium Chicago Tribune Chicago Blackhawks
United Center
The UC, The Madhouse on Madison, The House that Jordan Built
United Center logo.svg
United Center 1.jpg
United Center is located in Chicago
United Center
United Center
Location in Chicago
United Center is located in Illinois
United Center
United Center
Location in Illinois
United Center is located in the United States
United Center
United Center
Location in the United States
Address1901 West Madison Street
LocationChicago, Illinois
Coordinates41°52′50″N 87°40′27″W / 41.88056°N 87.67417°W / 41.88056; -87.67417Coordinates: 41°52′50″N 87°40′27″W / 41.88056°N 87.67417°W / 41.88056; -87.67417
Public transitGreen at Damen (2021)
Green Pink at Ashland
Blue at Illinois Medical District
OwnerUnited Center Joint Venture (UCJV)
(Chicago Bulls 50%/Chicago Blackhawks 50%)[1]
OperatorUnited Center Joint Venture
CapacityConcerts: 23,500
Basketball: 20,917
(standing room to at least 23,129 [2]
Hockey: 19,717
(standing room to at least 22,428)[3]
Field size960,000 sq ft (89,000 m2)
Broke groundApril 6, 1992[4]
OpenedAugust 18, 1994
Renovated2009–10 (300 Level)
2014 (exterior)
Expanded2016–17 (United Center Atrium)
Construction cost$175 million
($302 million in 2019 dollars[5])
ArchitectPopulous (then HOK Sport)
W. E. Simpson Company, Inc.
Marmon Mok
Project managerInternational Facilities Group, LLC.[6]
Structural engineerThornton Tomasetti
Services engineerFlack + Kurtz[7]
General contractorMorse Diesel/Huber Hunt & Nichols[8]
Chicago Bulls (NBA) (1994–present)
Chicago Blackhawks (NHL) (1995–present)
The United Center during a Bulls basketball game., December 2007

United Center (The UC, The Madhouse on Madison, The House that Jordan Built) is an indoor arena on the Near West Side of Chicago, Illinois, United States. It is home to the Chicago Bulls of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League (NHL), named after its corporate sponsor, United Airlines, which is based in Chicago since 2007. With a capacity of nearly 21,000, the United Center is the largest arena by capacity in the National Basketball Association.

Opened in 1994, the United Center replaced the Chicago Stadium, its now demolished predecessor. The first event held at the United Center was WWF Summerslam. Due to the lockout, the Chicago Blackhawks did not move in until January 1995. In 1996, the United Center hosted the 1996 Democratic National Convention, where it first introduced a new style four-screen speech prompting system for speakers consisting of two glass teleprompters, accompanied by an inset lectern monitor, and for the first time, a large under-camera confidence monitor.[9]

Home of the iconic Michael Jordan statue built in 1994, it is housed in the United Center atrium which was completed as an addition to the arena in 2017.[10] Additional statues include Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita, while a statue of various Blackhawk players sit to the north on Madison Street, where the former Chicago Stadium was located.

Arena Information

The Bulls and Blackhawks own and operate United Center through a 50/50 partnership, the United Center Joint Venture (UCJV). It covers 960,000 square feet (89,000 m2) on a 46-acre (19 ha) parcel, west of the Chicago Loop.[11] The arena is the largest in the United States in size, though not in capacity. Its exterior bears a striking resemblance to that of Chicago Stadium. It seats 19,717 for hockey, 20,917 for basketball 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. Attendance routinely exceeds seating capacity for Bulls and Blackhawks games.

United Center's acoustics were designed to amplify noise to replicate "The Roar" – the din that made Chicago Stadium famous, especially during hockey games.[12] During hockey season, the Blackhawks use an Allen Organ that is a replica of the old arena's famous Barton organ. Recreating the old organ's notes took two years.[13]

The building is 140 feet (43 m) tall,[14] and cost $175 million to build, from concrete and 3,500 tons of steel.[15] While the Blackhawks and Bulls had long planned another arena, an inflated real estate market and the early 1990s recession delayed the project until financing was secured from an international syndicate, with funding by banks from Japan, Australia and France. Originally having 216 luxury sky-boxes,[16] as of the 2009–10 renovation the arena has 169 executive suites on three levels.[17]

Both the Chicago Blackhawks and the Chicago Bulls play their home games at the arena with some of them on back to back nights. The hardwood floor for the Bulls games is laid over the ice that the Blackhawks play on. The flooring is assembled like a puzzle and taken apart when the Blackhawks have a game.[18]



In addition to 82 Bulls and Blackhawks games each year, 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 and again in 2013 and 2015),[19][20] the Men's NCAA Basketball Tournament (hosted four times, including 2011), the Roundball Classic, and the Great Eight Classic.

The arena was the Bulls' home during their second run of three consecutive championships, hosting the 1996, 1997, 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, now known as Vivint Smart Home Arena, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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, and also the only major event held in the building by WWE.[21] It also hosted the last of WCW's annual Spring Stampede pay-per-view in 2000. On March 3, 2018, WWE returned to United Center for the first time in over 20 years with a Road To WrestleMania House show.

The arena has hosted the Stanley Cup Finals three times: in 2010, 2013, and 2015. The Blackhawks won the first two Stanley Cups on the ice of their opponent in the sixth game of the series (Philadelphia's Wachovia Center in 2010 and Boston's TD Garden in 2013). However, they won the 2015 series against the Tampa Bay Lightning at home in the sixth game, the first time since 1938 the Hawks clinched the Cup in Chicago.[22]

The United Center's configuration for Blackhawks hockey games.

On the weekend of March 5–6, 2011, the Professional Bull Riders made their Built Ford Tough Series debut at the United Center.[23] 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 as instead of dirt, white crushed stone was used to cover the arena floor.

The Illinois State High School Hockey Championships are hosted at the United Center yearly for the Blackhawk Cup.[24]

On January 28, 2012, the Ultimate Fighting Championship held its first nationally televised event at the arena: UFC on Fox. UFC on Fox 2 was the UFC's 2nd live prime-time event on Fox. The headlining fight was former UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion Rashad Evans vs. Phil Davis, with Evans winning by unanimous decision.[25] The UFC announced in mid-January 2015 that the United Center would be host of UFC on Fox 16.[26] The United Center also hosted UFC on Fox: Johnson vs. Dodson in 2013 and UFC on Fox: Henderson vs. Thomson in 2014.

On October 13, 2016, the arena hosted the Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions.[27]

On June 9, 2018, United Center hosted UFC 225 which was its first PPV event.[28][29][30]

In September 2018, the United Center hosted the second edition of the Laver Cup. The tennis competition will feature Team Europe vs. Team World.

In 2020, it hosted the NBA All-Star Game.[31]

On March 25, 2020, the United Center became Chicago's logistical hub to support Chicago's efforts against COVID-19. [32]



With a seating capacity of 23,500 for concerts, United Center has been a home to many concert performances. The first was Billy Joel, who stated the “...acoustics could use some work..” New Kids on the Block, Prince, The Smashing Pumpkins, Kanye West, Madonna, U2, Rolling Stones, Tina Turner, Van Halen, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Barbra Streisand, Bruce Springsteen, Sir Paul McCartney, Janet Jackson, Celine Dion, The Who, Pearl Jam, Green Day, Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, and Lady Gaga have all had sold-out shows for their concerts in this arena, as well as Dave Matthews Band, who released its 1998 show at the venue, entitled Live in Chicago 12.19.98 at the United Center.[33]

Family events

United Center has also provided a Chicago home for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus (last performance was 2016, and they permanently shut down on May 21, 2017) and Disney on Ice, which occur once per year; the Bulls and Blackhawks have a tradition of taking a two-week road trip when the circus is in town.[34] After Ringling left Chicago for one final time in November 2016, the Bulls and Blackhawks allowed Ringling's sister production Disney on Ice to perform its last two-week show in February 2017, before being condensed to a one-week period effective February 2018.

Television events

On August 29, 1994, the newly opened United Center was home to the seventh annual WWF Summerslam Pay-Per-View event. Aired Live, attendance was at 23,000.[35]

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. Pictures from the event are displayed inside the arena entrance on the wall of Gate 4.[36]

Political events

United Center was also the venue of the 1996 Democratic National Convention, where the Democratic Party nominated as its presidential and vice-presidential candidates Bill Clinton and Al Gore, the incumbent holders of the respective offices, who would be re-elected as a result of the general election held that November.


300 Level

One of the two former "Madhouse" signs of the UC before it was taken down after the 2012–13 season.

New for the 2009–10 season, United Center's 300 Level features a renovated concourse with 144 flat screen televisions, 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.[37] After the 2012–13 season, a third panoramic LED bar was installed around the 300 level, replacing the famous "Welcome To The Madhouse" signs.

United Center includes:

Hardwood floor

A new court was added to the UC for the 2015–16 season and includes multiple changes. The iconic bull head logo at center court has increased in size by 75% and the image of a basketball that was previously behind the logo has been removed. The “CHICAGO BULLS” text on the endlines has been changed to the font used in the official Bulls logo to make the court design more consistent with the Bulls brand, and the same font has been applied to the “Bulls.com” and the “@ChicagoBulls” text on the north apron of the court. The lines on the court have been changed from red and white to all black to emphasize the bold colors of the Bulls brand. The four stars from the City of Chicago flag have been added to the south apron of the court to highlight the team's civic pride and incorporate the “Chicago Basketball” branding campaign.[38]


Panorama of the United Center during a Bulls game, with the scoreboard in the middle

In 2019, a new state of the art scoreboard was added to United Center. The scoreboard is currently the largest scoreboard in the NHL and NBA.[39] It has a 8,600 square feet (800 m2) display[40] with kinetic movement with six independent panels, a first-of-its-kind continuous inner ring display and new audio speakers and lighting. [39]


Just before Game 2 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals at the United Center between the Hawks and the Boston Bruins.
The United Center's LED lighting.

The following banners hang from the rafters of United Center honoring past and present Bulls and Blackhawks.


Chicago Bulls retired numbers and honorees
No. Player Position/charge Tenure Date retired
4 Jerry Sloan G/SF 1966–1976 February 17, 1978
10 Bob Love F 1968–1976 January 14, 1994
23 Michael Jordan SG 1984–1993
November 1, 2003
33 Scottie Pippen SF 1987–1998
December 9, 2005
Phil Jackson Coach 1987–1989 (assistant)
1989–1998 (head)
May 5, 1999
Johnny Kerr Coach
Business manager
1966–1968 (head coach)
1973–1975 (business manager)
1977–2009 (broadcaster)
February 10, 2009
Jerry Krause General manager March 26, 1985April 7, 2003 October 31, 2003

Championship banners


Chicago Blackhawks retired numbers
No. Player Position Career No. retirement
1 Glenn Hall G 1957–1967 November 20, 1988
3 Keith Magnuson D 1969–1980 November 12, 2008
Pierre Pilote D 1955–1968
9 Bobby Hull LW 1957–1972 December 18, 1983
18 Denis Savard C 1980–1990
March 19, 1998
21 Stan Mikita C 1958–1980 October 19, 1980
35 Tony Esposito G 1969–1984 November 20, 1988

Championship banners


The Michael Jordan statue, known as "The Spirit", on the east side of the United Center.

Several statues of Bulls and Blackhawks greats exist inside and around the outside of the stadium.

The most noteworthy being the Michael Jordan Statue, also known as "The Spirit", on the east side of the arena in an atrium outside gate four. Originally installed in 1994, during Jordan's first retirement and just after the stadium's opening, the statue features Jordan mid-dunk over an opposing player, with his tenures with the Bulls and career stats engraved on the bottom.

In 2000, in honor of the team's 75th anniversary, a statue of various Blackhawks greats from different eras, along with the franchise's Indian head logo, was erected on the north side of the stadium across Madison Street, near the former Chicago Stadium site. The back of the statue features the names of all Blackhawks players up to that point, along with a marble plaque commemorating Chicago Stadium.

Blackhawks legends Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita received bronze statues in their honor outside of the United Center during the 2011–12 NHL season.[41]

In 2011, a bronze bust of Bulls Great Scottie Pippen was dedicated in the stadium's first floor concourse.


United Center's former logo, used until September 2011. The logo was changed to the current one to reflect United Airlines' merger with Continental Airlines.

United Airlines paid about $1.8 million per year until 2014 for its naming rights.[42] United merged with Continental Airlines in October 2010, retaining Continental's logo and corporate look. The arena continued to use United's tulip logo for the duration of the 2010–11 season. For the 2011–12 season, all the previous United signs were replaced with the globe logo. Two new lit signs on the east and west ends of the arena saying "United Center" with the United globe in the middle were revealed below the upper level suites complementing the former "Madhouse" signs on the north and south sides.

In December 2013, it was announced that an agreement had been reached to keep United's naming rights for the arena for another 20 years. The United Center will see a series of updates and upgrades to the interior and exterior of the building. New signage, additional LED boards, and other elements have been added after reaching this agreement. LED screens have been installed on the north side of the arena along with a panoramic LED board on the 300 level, eliminating the "Welcome To The Madhouse" sign.

Anheuser-Busch has also established a sponsorship. They are partners with both the Chicago Bulls and Chicago Blackhawks and have gained rights to signage inside the arena along with a pub.[43]

Seating capacity

Record attendance

Basketball: 24,544 (11 times during the 1996 NBA Playoffs and 1997 NBA Playoffs)

Ice hockey: 22,690, October 25, 2008, against Detroit Red Wings.[44]

See also


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  2. ^ "Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Chicago Bulls". Chicago Tribune. March 19, 2010. Archived from the original on 2014-03-03. Retrieved February 5, 2013.
  3. ^ Associated Press (April 11, 2010). "Red Wings 3, Blackhawks 2, OT". National Hockey League. Archived from the original on June 16, 2010. Retrieved February 5, 2013.
  4. ^ Sullivan, Paul; Reardon, Patrick (April 7, 1992). "Dignitaries Dig in at New Stadium Fete". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 15, 2012.
  5. ^ Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved January 1, 2020.
  6. ^ International Facilities Group - United Center
  7. ^ Weiss, Lois (January 4, 1995). "Engineers Mark 25th Anniversary". Real Estate Weekly. Retrieved May 15, 2012.
  8. ^ United Center - Emporis.com
  9. ^ "Speakers send a strong message". Detroit Free Press (Detroit, Michigan). August 27, 1996. Retrieved October 12, 2019.
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  11. ^ "A Closer Look Inside The United Center". Chicago Tribune. September 7, 1994. Retrieved February 5, 2013.
  12. ^ Markus, Robert (September 17, 1994). "Hawks Quiet In Opener". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 5, 2013.
  13. ^ Smith, Marcia C. (September 7, 1994). "Like Stadium, New Organ Will Be More Versatile". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 5, 2013.
  14. ^ "United Center, Chicago". Emporis. Retrieved December 30, 2015.
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  18. ^ Ice to Hardwood: United Center Photo Timelapse
  19. ^ "2013 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament". Big Ten Conference. Retrieved February 5, 2013.
  20. ^ "Big Ten Tournament History". Big Ten Conference. Retrieved February 5, 2013.
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  29. ^ "UFC® on FOX: UFC returns to Chicago with January title fight". Ultimate Fighting Championship. 2012-11-15. Retrieved 2012-11-15.
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  31. ^ "Chicago to host NBA All-Star 2020". NBA.com. November 9, 2017. Retrieved February 15, 2018.
  32. ^ "COVID-19 Updates | United Center". www.unitedcenter.com. Retrieved 2020-03-30.
  33. ^ "Top 20 Most Impactful Moments in United Center History". CSN Chicago. Archived from the original on 2015-09-09. Retrieved 2015-10-21.
  34. ^ Kuc, Chris (January 28, 2013). "Practices Few and Far Between for Blackhawks". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 5, 2013.
  35. ^ Badwool, Andy. "WWF SummerSlam 1994 - Results - WWE PPV Event History - Pay Per Views & Special Events - Pro Wrestling Events Database". The SmackDown Hotel. Retrieved 2020-06-04.
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  37. ^ Vettel, Phil (November 19, 2009). "The United Center's New Concessions Offerings Are Playoff Caliber". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 5, 2013.
  38. ^ "Bulls unveil their new court design". CBSSports.com. Retrieved 2015-10-21.
  39. ^ a b "2019 United Center Scoreboard | United Center". www.unitedcenter.com. Retrieved 2019-07-23.
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