By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Mariucci Arena now has a new name.

3M has bought the naming rights to Mariucci for $11.2 million for the next 14 years.

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And before traditionalists and fans of legendary Gopher Coach John Mariucci get upset, know this, the Mariucci name is not going away.

The new name of the arena: 3M Arena at Mariucci.

The new name is already up in lights on the inside. Soon it will go up on the outside.

“When you can put your name with 3M and what they represent, not only in this state but worldwide, obviously you’re excited about that,” U of M Athletic Director Mark Coyle said.

The money will go towards all athletic programs as well as to the state of the art $166 million Gopher Athletic Village scheduled to open in January 2018.

“It will impact all of our student athletes that are here currently and future student athletes when they come to Minnesota, that was very important to 3M,” Coyle said.

Gopher men’s hockey Coach Don Lucia says the village is the kind of extra that can cement the deal with top recruits.

“Any recruit now wants to see what type of facilities you have, what type of commitment you have to the athletic program,” Lucia said.

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The deal is a winner for 3M too, a Minnesota company where one out of five top executives is a U of M grad.

“It’s all the right reasons. It gives us a rallying point for this relationship and some visibility,” Paul Acito, chief marketing officer for 3M said.

The arena which opened in 1993 is named for legendary Gopher player and coach, the late John Mariucci.

Former North Star great Lou Nanne, who chairs the U of M athletic department’s fundraising efforts, played for and worked with Mariucci and has known the family for decades.

“The family were all on board with it,” Nanne said.

Nanne said the family had worried the day would come when the Mariucci name might be replaced completely.

“They are feeling great. I talked to every one of them,” Nanne said.

So with the deal having the Mariucci family’s Post-it note of approval it will be up to the fans if they will adopt the new moniker, or if they will still use the old name, which will always be a centerpiece of Gopher and Minnesota Hockey greatness.

John Mariucci Jr. released a statement Monday saying in part, “We are happy that 3M and the U felt it was important to continue honoring our father and grandfather’s legacy and kept the Mariucci name tied to the arena.”

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The Gophers will play their first game in the newly named arena on Oct. 1.

Esme Murphy