CHICAGO — U.S. Cellular will retain naming rights to the South Side's ballpark even after offloading its Midwestern markets, the company announced Wednesday.
The wireless phone carrier will keep its headquarters in Chicago but sell markets in Chicago, St. Louis and portions of central Illinois to Sprint Nextel Corp. in a $480 million deal. The move is expected to trim costs for U.S. Cellular while boosting Sprint's network capacity, according to a news release.
Despite the deal, U.S. Cellular Field will remain The Cell. U.S. Cellular bought the naming rights to Comiskey Park in 2003 for 20 years — for a $68 million price tag.
"At U.S. Cellular, we are proud of our partnership with the Chicago White Sox and the experience fans have at U.S. Cellular Field. We will continue to be headquartered here in Chicago and our enthusiasm for Chicago sports remains the same. Our naming rights to the ballpark are not a part of this deal with Sprint. The White Sox are a great partner and we look forward to continuing our relationship with them," U.S. Cellular marketing VP Dave Kimbell said in a statement.
The deal, which is reportedly expected to close sometime in 2013, will spell upward of 680 job cuts in the Chicago area through the closure of retail stores and engineering and support facilities. About 160 layoffs are expected in the city, company officials told the Chicago Tribune.