By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
For the past decade, the name has been the same. But now, a new moniker is coming to 99 Athol St.
Prior to the naming rights for General Motors expiring on the GM Centre at the end of the month, the City of Oshawa has announced that the home of the Oshawa Generals will soon be known as the Tribute Communities Centre.
The new name will take effect as of Nov. 1 and will remain in place under a new 10-year naming rights contract signed between the city and the home builder.
“It’s really exciting,” said Mayor John Henry. “It just shows that we’re a city that’s alive and evolving.”
The previous contract with GM, worth $775,000 signed in 2006 saw the city receive $75,000 in cash between 2006 and 2011, following which $80,000 was provided annually for the second half of the contract. Currently, those funds are allocated to the city’s debt management and capital reserve.
While no details were provided by the city regarding the new contract, Henry says the amount being paid by Tribute is “substantially more.”
“I can tell you it’s significantly different than the first 10 years and we were excited when we could bring a community partner to the table,” he said. “There’s a couple pieces to it, but it is a good deal for the residents of Oshawa.”
Preliminary estimates put the city’s annual take for the naming rights at three times the current amount.
“Due to the facility’s growth and notoriety, preliminary estimates place this opportunity value at approximately $250,000 per year,” reads the GM Centre’s 2015 business plan.
For Tribute CEO Steven Libfeld, the naming rights are simply a way of giving back to the community.
“I think it’s important for us to give back to the community and be present in the community,” he says. “It’s an excellent facility and (we’re) proud to be a part of it.”
Looking at other facilities that host Ontario Hockey League teams, arenas have received corporate sponsorships with varying levels of cash attached.
In 2007, the home of the Guelph Storm became the Sleeman Centre in a $1.2-million deal that lasts until 2020. The London Knights penned a $6.4-million, 10-year contract to have their rink named Budweiser Gardens and in 2014, Hamilton’s Copps Coliseum became the FirstOntario Centre in a $3.5-million, 10-year deal. The Kingston Frontenacs will continue to play in the K-Rock Centre until 2018 due to a $3.3-million, 10-year deal signed in 2008.