By St. Louis Business Journal

Kiel Opera House has been renamed Peabody Opera House.

The name change is effective immediately.

Terms of the decade-long naming rights sponsorship deal were not disclosed.

The opera house had been named in honor of former St. Louis Mayor Henry Kiel.

Developers, company officials and politicians celebrated Monday the start of the long-awaited $78.7 million restoration of the historic opera house.

"For more than half a century, Peabody has called downtown St. Louis home as we power people's lives all over the world," Peabody Energy Chairman and Chief Executive Greg Boyce said in a statement. "We are now proud to help turn this opera house into a home for creative energy, brightening people's lives and further enhancing the city's magnificent cultural landscape."

Redevelopment partners Dave Checketts, brothers Chris and Joe McKee, as well as St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay also attended the groundbreaking at noon Monday.

The city of St. Louis sold $32.6 million in bonds to help finance renovations to the historic building adjoining the Scottrade Center arena. Redevelopment partners Checkettsâ¿¿ SCP Worldwide and the McKees are more than doubling their equity investment to get the deal done.

SCP and the McKees project the venue will host 264 events in 2012, with that number growing to 292 by 2014. They also forecast revenue of $16.6 million in the opera houseâ¿¿s first full year of operations and expect it to grow about 9 percent a year to $19.7 million by 2014, according to information included with the bond documents.

Chris McKee, formerly president of McEagle Properties, formed Optimus Development last August to handle new development projects such as the opera house. Joe McKee is president and chief executive of Paric Corp., which will serve as general contractor on the rehabilitation with a construction contract not to exceed $43.4 million. Together, Chris and Joe McKee are principals of affiliate Optimus Opera House LLC. Their father, Paul McKee, is a longtime developer pushing for an $8.1 billion redevelopment of north St. Louis called NorthSide.

New York-based SCP owns the St. Louis Blues and the long-term leases to Scottrade Center and the opera house.

St. Louis-based Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU) reported $6 billion in 2009 revenue. As the worldâ¿¿s largest private-sector coal company, its coal products fuel 10 percent of all U.S. electricity generation and 2 percent of worldwide electricity.

Copyright 2010 American City Business Journals

Copyright 2010