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Banterra Bank President and CEO Jeff May (from left), SIU Salukis radio announcer Mike Reis, SIU Interim Chancellor John Dunn and SIU Athletic Director Jerry Kill view the logo for the Banterra Center during the announcement of the rebranding of the arena in May.

CARBONDALE — Standing on a podium atop the Saluki basketball court, Thursday afternoon, SIU Carbondale Athletic Director Jerry Kill made a prophecy.

“Ten years from now, I guarantee you this day will be the difference in Saluki basketball,” he said, to a crowd of local dignitaries, Saluki boosters and Southern Illinois sports heroes.

“You will remember this day. This is what I call momentum.”

After 55 years as the SIU Arena, Carbondale’s biggest basketball stage is changing its name via the largest corporate naming rights agreement in SIUC history.

Now, it is the Banterra Center, so named by Banterra Bank, which has 40 branches across Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Missouri.

The arena’s first-ever naming agreement guarantees $4 million to SIUC in its first 10 years, plus up to $1 million more, contingent on the success of an exclusive, SIU Athletics-branded affinity debit card to be released by Banterra.

Banterra Bank President and CEO Jeff May (left) and SIU Interim Chancellor John Dunn sign the agreement rebranding the SIU Arena as the Banter…

That portion of the funds will go to scholarships still under design, for athletes and other SIUC students, said Interim Chancellor John Dunn.

The more revenue the debit cards generate, the greater Banterra’s annual contribution to the university, explained Banterra Bank President Robert J. “Jeff” May, up to $150,000 per year.

Both parties will have the option to extend the arrangement another 10 years, with another $5 million in contributions to SIUC possible, May said.

“For Banterra, this is more than a marketing or naming opportunity,” May said. “SIU is a critical economic driver for the region. The main reason our Banterra board chose to do this, we saw this decision as an investment in the positive influence in our region’s economy and its growth. We are all citizens of Southern Illinois.”

Kill, who returned to SIU Carbondale in the Spring of 2018, proposed the naming agreement to May about a year ago, he told the crowd.

“He fell out of his chair and thought I was crazy,” Kill said, “and I am crazy so that’s how that worked out.”

The following months were spent in negotiations, culminating with May joining Dunn at the lectern Thursday afternoon to ink the final contract with a pen colored Saluki maroon.

By the beginning of basketball season, Saluki fans will see a new exterior logo, interior and marquee signage, and green Banterra Center logos on each side of the court near the sideline.

“Banterra Center makes us big time,” Kill said. “There’s so much marketing and so many things you can reach out to, when you have a big-time arena that is named.”

Kill expects the university will benefit from the prestige of a corporate name in its recruitment of both basketball players and entertainment and musical acts.

Representatives from SIU and Banterra Bank announce the rebranding of the SIU Arena as the Banterra Center on Thursday afternoon at the arena.…

“It makes it professional, so to speak,” he said. “It’s revenue and it’s also taking pride in our institution.”

Kill also highlighted the hiring of new men’s basketball head coach Brian Mullins as a driver of renewed enthusiasm.

“Trust me, there’s going to be a lot more than this,” Kill said. “My vision is this is the start of a new legacy.”

Finished in 1962, the $4.3 million SIU Arena has played host to multiple NCAA tournament-qualifying teams, plus artists like Simon and Garfunkel, Ella Fitzgerald and Elvis.

In 2009 and 2010, it underwent a $29.9 million renovation, that brought fancier seating and more fan amenities, plus upgrades to meet the standards of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

In the early 2000’s, just before the renovations, SIUC's men's basketball team had the nation's best home-court winning percentage for seven years running.

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Reporter

Gabriel Neely-Streit is a reporter for The Southern covering higher education.

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