What’s in a Name? Selling Naming Rights in Hamilton

Copps Coliseum was built in 1985
in hopes of drawing an NHL team.

Is there an opportunity for Hamilton to sell the naming rights to city owned sports facilities. Or should the city keep these municipal properties from gaining corporate sponsorships and leave their names as they are?

The practice of selling naming rights had its start many years ago and can be seen as a way to raise funds for the owners. While commonplace around the world, the practice is not without controversy and doesn’t work in all markets.

Hamilton has three major stadiums in Copps Coliseum, Ivor Wynne Stadium and Bernie Arbour Stadium. The stadiums are named for different important people from Hamilton’s history.

Copps Coliseum, fully named the Victor K. Copps Trade Centre and Arena, was named after former Hamilton mayor Victor K. Copps. The arena opened in 1985 in the hopes of drawing an NHL franchise to the city.

Ivor Wynne Stadium, originally named Civic Stadium, is home to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Shortly after Wynne’s death in November 1970, the city parks board voted to rename the stadium to honour his contributions to McMaster and the community.

Bernie Arbour Memorial Stadium

Bernie Arbour Memorial Stadium, home to the Hamilton Cardinals of the Intercounty Baseball League, was named for former Hamilton police sergeant Bernie Arbour, who was the director of Hamilton youth baseball from 1948 to his death in 1967.

The corporate ‘selling out’ of stadium names can be a tough move, especially when the stadium being renamed has a lengthy history with one name.

In Los Angeles the L.A. Dodgers are up for sale, along with their ballpark Dodger Stadium. The iconic park has never had the naming rights sold and has been known by that moniker for the entirety of the stadium’s fifty years. There is ongoing discussion on whether or not the stadium should be open to selling naming rights or keep the historic name intact.

In British Columbia a proposed deal between the province and Telus Corp to sell the naming rights to the newly renovated B.C. Place stadium was rejected by the cabinet. The government felt that the name of the stadium was more important than the $35 million dollar deal to put the Telus brand on the building.

Some are questioning the decision. The stadium’s renovation cost the province $563 million and the deal could have helped pay for a good chunk of that cost.

But would selling the naming rights be welcome in the Hammer?

Imagine what millions of dollars from the private sector could do for some of our facilities.

Selling the naming rights to a facility could be an easier feat if the corporate entity purchasing the naming rights has a tie to the community. It’s no secret that some are not happy about the rebuild of Ivor Wynne Stadium, but the Tim Horton’s name on the building could be a welcome addition.

Tim Horton’s is already a sponsor of the Tiger-Cats and has a long history with Hamilton, with the company having it’s roots in the city. Hamilton is home to the very first Tim Horton’s store, located just a few blocks from the stadium.

“Ivor Wynne, as per the TO2015 deal with the City and the Tiger Cats, sees the Cats guaranteeing naming rights,” commented Ward 2 counceller Jason Farr, “So that’s a work in progress.”

Selling the rights has the possibility of bringing much needed funds to the city to renovate and upgrade the facility, or in the case of Ivor Wynne to help pay for it’s construction.

The city is currently in the process of selling HECFI properties, including Copps Coliseum. According to Mr Farr the entities bidding on the arena “may likely attach a name” to the arena.

There are currently no plans to rename Bernie Arbour.

While our facilities might not be at the same level of visibility, the Air Canada Centre in Toronto brings the city $1.5 million annually. That offer runs until 2019, meaning that the deal will still bring Toronto more than $8 million in additional revenue before the deal is up.

Imagine what millions of dollars from the private sector could do for some of our facilities.

As a note, the idea isn’t exactly a foreign one to the city. The Studio Theatre at Hamilton Place has been known as the Molson Canadian Studio for some time now.

About Jason Nason 1962 Articles
I'm the editor of Hamilton-Today.com and I love the city of Hamilton. From sports to entertainment, local events and the politics of the city, I will try to bring it here to you!

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