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New Westminster won't sell naming rights for civic centre

New Westminster city council is willing to consider sponsorship of spaces inside the future civic centre but the outside is off limits.

New Westminster city council is willing to consider sponsorship of spaces inside the future civic centre but the outside is off limits.

Staff presented council with a report about corporate sponsorship opportunities for the multi-use civic facility that could offset the cost of the civic centre. Sponsorship could include naming rights to the facility and/or interior spaces in the civic centre, which is under construction on Columbia Street.

Council directed staff not to explore sponsorship opportunities connected to the name of the multi-use civic facility, but to explore sponsorship of interior spaces in the building. Council also asked staff to develop a sponsorship policy in case council wishes to embark on a sponsorship program for the civic facility.

Coun. Jonathan Cote said he is open to looking at sponsorship opportunities inside the centre if it's a good fit, but he's opposed to having a corporate name on the outside of the building.

"I would not want to go down that road with respect to naming," he said.

Coun. Betty McIntosh said the city has to be sensitive about what sponsorships are considered inside the building, as all ages would be impacted. She believes it's important that the community sees the city's name on the outside of the civic centre.

Coun. Bill Harper, who is "not a big fan" of sponsorship, said that any sponsorship considered inside the building should be appropriate to the facility and shouldn't be completely unrelated, such as Pepsi or Coca Cola.

Coun. Chuck Puchmayr said the city has fought for years to revitalize the downtown and is starting to reap the benefits.

"We need to keep some identity there, most definitely," he said of the city's name on the building.

Puchmayr also stated that the city needs to ensure any corporate sponsorship of spaces in the facility doesn't contribute to the "incredible push" toward marketing toward children.

"I definitely want the name on the outside to be ours," said Coun. Lorrie Williams.

Coun. Jaimie McEvoy said the civic centre is an accomplishment by the people of New Westminster and the building's name should reflect that. "I think that is what needs to be emphasized there."

McEvoy said the area around the civic centre has a rich history that could easily provide names for spaces in the facility that doesn't involve corporate sponsorship.

A staff report states that opportunities for sponsorship exist for other city facilities, but the multi-use civic facility present an "immediate and unique opportunity" as it is a new facility and has commerce components such as conference space, gift shop and retail space.

"Other cities that have implemented a corporate sponsorship program have committed resources and reaped the benefits of increased revenues," stated the report. "If the City of New Westminster was interested in implementing a corporate sponsorship program it would start with the development of a sponsorship policy that establishes parameters for corporate sponsorship throughout the organization."

Council confirmed that any recommendations would need to be considered by council before being approved.

"Absolutely," said Dean Gibson, the city's director of parks, culture and recreation. "At this point the only work we are doing is policy development."

The reports states that the facility has an office tower component, which could attract potential sponsor.

Mayor Wayne Wright recently told The Record that some people who are interested in coming into the building are awaiting the city's decision about naming rights.

In addition to the civic centre, the city is building an office tower above the city facility. The total budget for the project is $94 million, which includes $41.5 million for the civic centre, $12.5 million for the parking structure (to be used by the office tower and the civic facility), and $40 million for the office tower. The civic centre will include a 350-seat theatre, conference and meeting space, art studios, an art gallery, tourist information centre, the city's museum and the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

Sponsorship opportunities could include naming rights of the building or individual program areas (theatre, museum, art studios etc.), exclusive supplier rights in food and beverages, and advertising in indoor and outdoor spaces, stated the report.