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Victoria urged to sell naming rights for city facilities

Feb 10 2012

First came Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre. Is the Island Farms Victoria Conference Centre next?

Victoria councillors are being asked to consider selling naming rights for city facilities such as Royal Athletic Park and the Victoria Conference Centre.

"This is dead simple money," said Coun. Marianne Alto, who has been working on policy proposals dealing with corporate sponsorship for city facilities since last summer.

Alto said the proposals will attempt to balance attracting revenue with the goals, values and principles of the city. Key concerns will be retaining council's ability to exclude corporations and other entities that don't meet the city's values and principles, and to be able to manage the message. "You want to be able to enable the council of the day to say: 'That doesn't fit with whatever our current values are.' "

In 2004, the Jim Pattison Group agreed to pay $1.25 million over 10 years to put the Save-on-Foods name on Victoria's new arena.

But aside from that deal, Victoria has a policy against corporate naming of civic facilities, said Coun. Chris Coleman, chairman of the city's corporate services standing committee.

Two years ago, a majority of Victoria councillors nixed the idea of selling naming rights for the conference centre.

There's no shortage of people wanting to use bare city building walls to push their brand.

Councillors on Thursday heard a pitch from Clair Hawkins, of Parkads, who wants to put a series of six mini-billboard-style advertising spaces on the interior walls of the city's five parkades.

Hawkins estimated annual revenue of $120,000 from the 30 spots, and he proposed the city could take 20 per cent for providing the space.

Councillors referred the proposal to a meeting next month when they will discuss naming rights.

"It's about trying to find other revenue streams, Coleman said. "Corporate naming rights would be one, but you can do other contracts."

Alto said that aside from the conference centre, Crystal Pool and Royal Athletic Park, there aren't a lot of city facilities that lend themselves to the idea. But, she said, $1 million a year roughly translates into a one per cent tax lift.

"So if you can, amongst three or four facilities, bring in net $1 million a year in free revenue, you've just said to the taxpayers, we don't have to put it up five per cent, you can go to four. So it has a huge impact if you manage it properly."

Earlier this year, Salmon Arm's twin-sheet arena, known as Sunwave Centre since it opened 11 years ago, was renamed Shaw Centre — a name reflecting the recent buyout of Sun Country Cablevision by Shaw Communications.

Prior to the buyout, Sun Country Cablevision and Sunwave High Speed Internet renewed their commitment for naming rights to 2020. The renewal for the second 10 years was for $415,000, which makes the total commitment for naming rights $815,000 over 20 years.

Locally, Bear Mountain paid $250,000 over 10 years to have the golf resort's name put on the rink at the Juan de Fuca Recreation complex in Colwood.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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