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story.lead_photo.caption Verizon Arena is shown in this 2012 file photo.

Verizon Arena in North Little Rock will get a new name next year as part of a 15-year deal worth $10.5 million, officials announced Friday.

Simmons Bank bought the naming rights to the 18,000-seat multi-purpose civic center, the arena said in a news release. The precise wording of the new name hasn't been released.

“This is an exciting opportunity for Simmons Bank, and we are proud to be associated with an organization that does so much for our economy, while providing some of the best entertainment in the region,” said George Makris, chairman and CEO of Pine Bluff-based Simmons First National Corporation. “Sponsorships are an increasingly important component of our marketing strategy, and naming rights opportunities have only grown in value. It’s a wonderful channel to engage consumers.”

More than 400,000 patrons visit Verizon Arena each year, the release said. The facility was built in 1999.

“This is a great day for the arena,” Michael Marion, the arena’s general manager, said in the statement. “This partnership will keep our building updated and ready for the future.”

The arena said in September it was looking for a new naming sponsor that would go into effect when the current 20-year contract with Verizon expires in October 2019. When arena officials reached out to Verizon a few weeks earlier, company officials weren't interested in extending the sponsorship, Marion said.

Under a new sponsor, Marion anticipates spending money on "capital improvements" but said in September that patrons should not immediately expect to see any major redesigns, other than new signs.

Arena Marketing Director Jana DeGeorge said the deal also will rename the private drive beside the arena, currently named Verizon Arena Way.

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