City of Ottawa Eyes Sponsorship Possibilities

The City of Ottawa is for sale – or at least its signs, walls, publications and websites are. Joanne Chianello reported yesterday in the Ottawa Citizen that city council’s finance and economic development committee Tuesday approved a five-year marketing plan that identifies a potential $12.7 million in additional advertising revenue the city could raise from selling everything from the rights to name a municipally owned building to sponsoring a transit station. The naming rights for one building would raise $575,000 a year. But if a building is already named after someone (such as the Walter Baker Centre), a lesser “facility sponsorship” would be available for purchase, raising as much as $100,000 a year.

The interiors of facilities would be available for sponsorships as well – think of the arena or pool in the Ray Friel centre – raising an additional $287,000 annually. Or perhaps a company might want to be the exclusive advertiser at a specific transit station for two weeks, which the city estimates will generate $200,000. It has the same financial goal for advertising in the city’s publications and parking operations. The city already raises about $5 million annually from sponsorship and advertising agreements, but a recent report estimates that, based on the number of the city’s facilities and the range of programs it operates, the city should be able to raise an extra $3.4 million a year by 2014 “without detracting from service delivery and messaging to the community.”

Councillor. Mark Taylor said the city really has no other choice. “There was a time when the tax base could support everything that folks were looking for,” he said. “That day has come and gone, and now we have to make sure we’re capitalizing on every other opportunity.”

City staff identified 16 venues that could be marketed for naming rights, including the Kanata Leisure Centre, Pinecrest Complex and the Nepean Sportsplex. Knoxdale-Merivale Councillor Keith Egli said he was uncomfortable with that latter possibility, as he was worried that the residents in his ward would not want to lose – or, more accurately, sell – the community name “Nepean” on their sports centre. But city staff assured councillors that all naming and sponsorship deals would have to come before committee and council for approval before being finalized. The plan must be approved by full council before it goes ahead.

These are just one person’s thoughts. What have you seen?

by Brent Barootes


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