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Millions in TCC naming rights

Gens tickets, ice time and bonus advertising all part of new deal

Mayor John Henry, left, shakes hands with Steven Libfeld, the president of Tribute Communities Centre following the announcement that Tribute had acquired the naming rights to the former General Motors Centre.

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

The City of Oshawa is garnering nearly $2.5 million by allowing Tribute Communities to have their name on the city’s downtown sports and entertainment venue.

The naming rights agreement, acquired by The Oshawa Express after a lengthy Freedom of Information request, lays out not only the money changing hands, but the perks and rules set out over the course of the 10-year agreement, some of them a bit different from the contract signed with the building’s previous name-holder General Motors.

This number affirms information obtained from sources in October of 2016, when the agreement was first signed, who noted the city would be receiving $250,000 annually over the next 10 years as part of the new agreement. However, at the time, neither side was willing to confirm that amount.

It’s also pretty spot on to what the GM Centre staffers predicted they would garner by renegotiating the deal.

“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.

Now, the agreement shows that from years two to nine of the 10-year agreement, the City of Oshawa will receive $250,000, while in the first year they received $250,001, and in the final year of the deal, which expires in August of 2026, the city will earn $208,334.

“It was a great story for the city,” says Mayor John Henry of the year-old agreement. “For us it’s always trying to find a better way to leverage revenue for the city and it is substantially more than the previous agreement.”

Tribute Communities CEO Steven Libfeld did not respond to requests for comment from The Oshawa Express as of press deadline.

That previous agreement, signed with General Motors in 2006, was worth $775,000 total and 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.

And while Tribute is putting more money on the table, they are getting quite a lot more in return, aside from their name in lights on the side of the building.

Along with the title of “exclusive” sponsor, and five signs around the outside of the building, Tribute has the rights to door signage all across the arena, a mural inside the main entrance, advertising in the on-ice centre text ring, two spots on the upper ring of the video scoreboard, along with the outside surfaces of five changing room doors, the sound booth, floor mats at three locations, office doors, office entrance signage and box office signage.

The contract also extends outside the TCC and provides Tribute the opportunity to be a part of two other “signature” city events like the Canada Day festivities or the Peony Festival, and rink board advertising in other city facilities, including four boards at the Legends Centre, two at Harman Park Arena, one at Children’s Arena, and one at the Donevan Recreation Complex.

In addition, there are also quite a few perks aside from the advertising, including a trio of front row season tickets to the Oshawa Generals, two VIP parking spots and 24 hours of ice time each year.

However, the questions are still lingering as to why the agreement was kept from the public for so long.

“Often our challenge is that legal component, as much as you wanted to tell the world what a difference it was,” says Mayor Henry. “Sometimes it is one side or the other chooses not to release it and that makes it a bit of a challenge.”

In that vein, Oshawa seems to be a bit of an outlier.

In the past, the details of previous name changes for similar arenas and entertainment complexes have been a matter of public knowledge. In 2014, when the Copps Colisum in Hamilton was renamed to the FirstOntario Centre, it was reported that the company would be paying $3.4 million over 10 years. Similarly for the K-Rock Centre in Kingston, where the radio station purchased the naming rights in 2008 for $3.3 million for 10 years.

The same year, the home of the Soo Greyhounds was renamed to the Essar Centre in a $1.5 million, 10-year contract.

“But here, the information is now out, it’s a good story for the city, and it’s a great story that both Tribute and General Motors have a huge impact (on our city),” says Mayor Henry.

Despite the increase, the city has yet to feel the positive impact of the extra dollars, as it noted the cost to remove the signage and change the name over to the TCC covered much of the difference.

It’s expected that the increases from the agreements will be felt in 2018.

Vince Vella, the general manager of the TCC is expected to present the facility’s 2018 budget at the finance committee meeting on Nov. 16.