Civic centre naming rights a no go

While city council is willing to develop sponsorship deals in the new civic centre, it's hands-off the name.

A city staff report came to council Monday looking for direction on what types of corporate sponsorship to pursue. They gave the go-ahead to go after many types inside the building but nixed selling naming rights to the facility.

Before the meeting, Coun. Jonathan Coté said the facility is too important to the city, and it is too tied to the identity of the city to have a corporate connection.

"It would take away from the brand, and from what the facility is all about which is about being the cultural hub," said Coté.

Parks, recreation and culture director Dean Gibson, who wrote the report, said exploring corporate sponsorship for the civic centre is a topic his department has been kicking around lately after a recent workshop.

"In all the range of things we've been discussing about the civic centre even when the idea was conceived many, many years ago, one of the themes that was discussed was revenue generation beyond our traditional means to recoup some of the expenses," said Gibson. "Do we want to go down a path to explore this notion of sponsorship? And if we do, we've got some work to do with it."

There are other more modest means of corporate sponsorship besides the naming rights the city could pursue aggressively, said Gibson. What's unknown is how much of an appetite there is for commercialism in the public domain.

Surveys done by the city in the past show residents are generally supportive, those who are opposed to the concept are  "very opposed," said Coté. "There is still a significant sector of the population that have strong feelings about it."

Gibson said sponsorship is a very different animal than it was just 15 or 20 years ago. It's not just a sign board filled with business ads on a wall in a hockey rink.

He said the civic centre is a test case for what works well that could be used as a template to develop sponsorships for other facilities in the city, or for future projects like redevelopment of the Canada Games Pool.


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