As most everyone now knows, the city’s civic centre is undergoing a makeover.
Originally named the Canada Games Centre for the 1999 Jeux Canada Games, it was renamed in 2004 as the Pepsi Centre. There’s value in a name. Naming rights generate revenues that help reduce the operating subsidy that taxpayers contribute to run the facility, and the hourly rates that user groups pay for use of the ice and other areas. For the past 10 years Pepsi paid the city $50 000 per year to have their name on the building, and for pouring rights, that is, the exclusive right to sell only their products in all canteens and soft drink dispensers of the building – and as long as their was lots of traffic in the building, this was a viable agreement for both Pepsi and the centre.
However, as we all know, the number of people frequenting the centre has dwindled significantly over the past number of years, and much of that can be directly associated with the loss of the Corner Brook Royals 2 years ago. Fewer people meant less opportunity to sell products, and as such, the pouring rights portion of the naming agreement with Pepsi also lost value.
For the past year, my Council and I have been working diligently to transform this building into a true community centre that will, over time, attract more users and which will use all available space to maximum capacity to increase value to residents, users and yes, our corporate sponsors.
As part of this plan, we have taken back the operation of the building from Western Sports and Entertainment, we have worked to bring back the Corner Brook Royals, we continue to work with all user groups to accommodate their conflicting needs, we are investing $100 000 to overhaul the main entrance, washrooms and areas of the main arena, we are repairing the Kinsmen entrance doors, we have increased the budget for cleaning and security, we are working to create an entirely new website for the building, we will be tendering for a new, modern, digital sign at the bottom of the hill to replace the existing, out-dated sign, and with the assistance of $ 850 000 in shared capital funding from the the province, we are in the process of extending the annex to provide Saltos Gymnastics with a new, permanent home for their over 500 members who use the building each and every week.
We have also benefitted from $320 000 in new funding in partnership with BRTDC and ACOA for new wireless technology, video screens, amplifiers for main arena, podiums, tables and chairs and a functional space plan for the building. We received $30 000 from the FCM Green Fund to carry out an energy efficiency study which resulted in our successful application to the Provincial Green Fund for $550 000 to help remove the oil fired boilers and use the heat from the ice plants to heat the building, saving up to $ 225 000 each an every year in reduced operating costs once complete.
We continue to host meetings, conventions and sporting events such as last weeks MNL Conference with close to 600 delegates, this week’s Long Range Quilters Guild, VolleyWest, Sesame Street Let’s Dance, the Forget Me Not Gala Dinner, Hospital Foundation Gala, Sarah McLachlan and so much more.
We have other plans as well to provide additional programming for seniors and other age groups, we are working with provincial and federal funding partners to enhance our meetings and conventions offerings and we are working with a new sponsor on naming rights.
All of this takes time but we are confident that we can increase traffic to the centre and thereby increase economic activity throughout the city, which translates into more hotel stays, more fill ups at the gas stations, more meals in our restaurants, more purchases in our local stores, more money circulating in the local economy and more employment opportunities for residents.
We know it is inconvenient to not have the new name, we know people are curious and we will announce the name as soon as we can. In the meantime people are using the previous name less and less which we hope will make it easier to transition to the new name when it is announced very soon.
I hope this helps give you a better understanding of the issues associated with this marvellous regional facility that we have right here in our community for the benefit of all residents. So, let’s continue to work together and let’s be proud of our community and all it has to offer.