HomeWhat's in a name? Companies gain exposure through facility naming rights
 

What's in a name? Companies gain exposure through facility naming rights

Sep 21 2013

Stewart, Dave. What's in a name? Companies gain exposure through facility naming rights, The Guardian 21 September 2013

Tim Banks speaks from experience when he says Eastlink is going to enjoy having its name attached to a sports and entertainment complex.

The CEO and chief shareholder of APM Properties was so impressed with the effort by group of 13 communities around Cornwall trying to raise enough money to build an arena that he decided to write them a cheque for the naming rights to what became the APM Centre.

“The pleasant surprise is it’s a great branding for us. We see the name every day on the sports page, we see it at community events. Our name is being talked about,’’ Banks said. “It was a great buy on our part.’’

Eastlink recently announced an agreement with the Charlottetown Islanders of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Charlottetown Civic Centre board of directors to buy the naming rights to the facility, including the trade centre component.

While no one will talk on the record about the financial details, multiple sources have told The Guardian it will cost Eastlink between $50,000 and $100,000 per year in a multi-year deal to rename the building the Eastlink Centre. That deal comes just months after a group of nearly two dozen Island businesses got together to purchase the QMJHL hockey team from the Savard family.

As part of the deal to bring the Rocket to Charlottetown 11 years ago, the City of Charlottetown gave the Savard family the right to sell the name of the building. That right transferred to the new owners.

“I think Eastlink has done a big thing here (and) I think they’re going to be surprised at how well they get their name out there,’’ said Banks.

It seems everything has a name attached to it these days. Many arenas and stadiums in North America that have professional sports teams as tenants have a corporate name attached. And P.E.I. is increasingly becoming part of the trend as corporations seek more exposure.

Consolidated Credit Union in Summerside sponsors the city’s biggest sports and entertainment facility, while Eastlink has its name on the arena portion of the operation. It should be noted here that while Eastlink only has its name on the arena portion of Credit Union Place, the name in Charlottetown covers the entire facility. Meaning, the Civic Centre name is gone completely.

The Credit Union in Tignish sponsors that community’s facility as well.

However, the name game isn’t just restricted to sport complexes. In Charlottetown, for example, the Homburg company, which owns and operates The Holman Grand Hotel, sponsors the main stage theatre (Homburg Theatre) at the Confederation Centre of the Arts.

UPEI is well known for recognizing individuals and families who make large donations by naming buildings and rooms after them, but Myrtle Jenkins-Smith, interim director of development and alumni engagement, said there is a big difference with what they do and what takes place in the sports and entertainment industry.

“There is quite a difference between sponsorship and philanthropy. We’re not sponsorship-based,’’ Jenkins-Smith said. “When somebody makes a gift to the university they don’t say ‘If I give you X amount, you name this building’. That’s not how it works at all.

“They’re passionate about the university so they’re a philanthropist at that level. They make a significant gift to the university and, in exchange, we recognize them by putting their name on a building (or) a meeting room. There are no asks, there are no (free) tickets, none of that.’’

That goes for MacLauchlan Arena on the university’s campus as well. The name came as a result of philanthropic gift.

Norm O’Reilly, a professor of sports business at the University of Ottawa, said if done properly, attaching corporate names to buildings is effective.

“Eastlink seems to make sense (for Charlottetown),’’ O’Reilly said. “My view of it is that they’re looking at this as a marketing investment. There’s a bit of a give-back, supporting a local arena, but they’re really looking to build an awareness of their brand and associate with the club in a facility where a lot of stuff comes through. Any event that comes through, any concert, any regular hockey game, etc., the name Eastlink gets a lot of coverage.’’

"Any event that comes through, any concert, any regular hockey game, etc., the name . . . gets a lot of coverage.’’ Norm O’Reilly, University of Ottawa

O’Reilly said when it comes to the big facilities like Staples Centre in Los Angeles, Canadian Tire Place (formerly Scotiabank Place) in Ottawa or the Bell Centre in Montreal, naming rights range anywhere from $200,000 to $10 million with contracts lasting between an average of five to 25 years.

O’Reilly said brand names eventually become part of people’s vocabulary when the brand name is associated with a building.

Jeff Brown, general manager for Eastlink in the Maritimes, said this isn’t just about putting the name on the outside of the building.

“For us, the naming is one part of this,’’ Brown said. “Your name is on the building but it’s everything that happens inside.’’

Brown said Eastlink has had a long relationship with Charlottetown’s Quebec league team and always looked for ways to expand the partnership.

The partnership will mean more Islanders’ games on TV, promotions like the $10,000 shootout for fans between periods at televised games, and while Brown wasn’t too specific, could mean improved Internet service inside the arena for fans.

“You’re trying to get that share of people to remember the name Eastlink,’’ Brown said.

He added that while the agreement was struck with the Islanders hockey team, Eastlink also plans to work with Charlottetown’s professional basketball team, the Island Storm, and help promote any concerts, as well as events like Old Home Week.

And the company wants fans to benefit as well, meaning the value of the deal goes well beyond writing a cheque to put the sign on the building.

“We’ll obviously continue to work with (arena management) to give the customers the best experience that we can when they’re inside the building.’’

Trent Birt, vice-president of operations for the Charlottetown Islanders, said the partnership is a win-win for both sides.

“Anytime you can form a partnership with a company such as Eastlink it’s just going to raise the awareness of what we have to offer in the community,’’ Birt said. “We’re already discussing ways in which we can use both products to cross promote and to help each other. They certainly added to the game-day experience on opening night and we want to bottle that and do it many more times throughout the season. Our game coverage will increase this year.’’

Dave McGrath, general manager of the Eastlink Centre, said negotiations with Eastlink have been going on for the past year, starting while the Savard family still owned the team.

“When the new ownership came in it took a bit of a different focus so we were able to work directly with the new ownership on securing this as a partnership,’’ McGrath said, adding that while the Savards had the right to sell the name since coming to Charlottetown it never grew legs until now.

McGrath said teams like the Islanders are always looking for new revenue streams while Eastlink sees a facility that is constantly busy.

“They see the value of exposure for their brand and their product but also find it as a key vehicle and high profile for their presence in the community.’’

And, they see loads of potential down the road.

“If the relationship is a very, very good relationship and you can see growth in it beyond the terms of the contract, it makes sense.’’


Media Contact: MediaReleases@apm.ca