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Nanaimo city staff continue to investigate corporate sponsorship

City of Nanaimo staff will continue to explore a sponsorship policy after a presentation from a Calgary-based sponsorship consultant Tuesday.

Partnership Group president and CEO Brent Barootes told council sponsorship is a $1.59-billion industry and the city had to determine what it had to sell in terms of naming rights. Council asked staff to prepare a report looking at options for developing a sponsorship strategy.

The city has been looking at the selling of naming rights as an additional revenue stream and while Nanaimo Mayor John Ruttan suggested that the Nanaimo Ice Centre and aquatic centre could be candidates to have a sponsorship attached, he said it was too soon to begin thinking about what facilities could actually be up for sale.

“I think that’s quite a bit further ahead than where we are as to identify actual buildings but I think what we’re expecting is that city staff will sit down and in concert with whoever’s retained to do some advice on this, to come up with a plan on what it could be,” Ruttan said.

He said sponsorships didn’t have to be for buildings alone.

“We’ve spent a lot of money on artificial turf – they’re about $1 million each for an artificial field – and we’ve got three of them now,” Ruttan said. “We’re not necessarily looking at naming rights of existing buildings but rather the whole procedure of what would qualify and how we would go about it.”

Barootes discussed branding of memorial parks and fields named after notable citizens and the problems that could arise. The mayor didn’t foresee council adding a corporate sponsor’s name to such facilities as Merle Logan Field.

“Certainly Merle Logan Field is already established and I think it would be extremely unlikely that any council would want to go and change that name,” Ruttan said.

But while it is respectful to name fields after people who have made community contributions, Ruttan said looking at sponsorship when naming future fields should be examined as well.

“There are two different functions as I see it; one is identifying and recognizing people in the community or on a personal level, where we thank them for their participation by way of naming areas after them,” Ruttan said. “The other is ... the schools and cities are starting to realize there is a financial opportunity to be gained by looking at the possibility of sponsorship of some of these things.”

Ruttan estimated the report will be completed in late January.

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