Antwan Harris / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @antwanharris

NEW ORLEANS -- The New Orleans Arena has a new name with a familiar face on the marquee. The unveiling of the new Smoothie King Center took place Thursday.

Construction is underway at the Smoothie King Center as the New Orleans Pelicans prepare to take on the Minnesota Timberwolves Friday night.

The negotiations went on for the last year, but the Pelicans and Smoothie King agreed to a 10-year naming rights deal.

That also included the option to renew for another 10 years.

Since it opened in 1999, the New Orleans Arena has been one of the few teams in the league without a corporate name.

We are told the total value of the deal is estimated around $40 million.

The Pelicans considered offers from two other companies along with Smoothie King, but we are told the company won the bid because it is local, headquartered in Metairie and has growth plans similar to the franchise is planning for itself.

Franchise owner Tom Benson said he has been looking forward to this day.

'I'm just very pleased two locally owned companies can get together and do this on an international basis,' Benson said. 'Isn't that great?'

Rita Benson LeBlanc said, 'Through the game of basketball the Pelicans and Smoothie King will have the opportunity to teach fans how to eat healthy and exercise daily to improve their quality of life.'

The NBA All-Star Game will be held at the Smoothie King Center next weekend.

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