The plan to build the arena was created by then Blackhawks owner Bill Wirtz and Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf. The United Center's predecessor was the Chicago Stadium, the original "Madhouse on Madison", which was demolished after the new arena opened for business on August 18, 1994. The first ever event at the United Center was the WWF event SummerSlam (1994). Due to the 1994–95 NHL lockout, the Blackhawks did not move in until January 1995.
The east side of the stadium features statues of Michael Jordan (known as "The Spirit"), Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita, while a statue of various Blackhawks sits to the north on Madison Street, where the Chicago Stadium was located.
Despite being merged with Continental Airlines in May 2010, the original United Airlines logo and United name still remain with the arena. United Airlines pays about $1.8 million per year until 2014 for its naming rights.