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Naming rights set to grab more cash for city

Few details, no commitment from GM to keep name on arena

General Motors has not indicated whether it will sign a new contract to keep its name on the downtown GM Centre. The city expects a new deal to be completed by the end of the third quarter.

General Motors has not indicated whether it will sign a new contract to keep its name on the downtown GM Centre. The city expects a new deal to be completed by the end of the third quarter.

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

What’s in a name?

Well, millions of dollars when it comes to hockey arenas.

Come November, the current contract for the naming rights of Oshawa’s General Motors Centre comes due, and the process is currently underway to determine the future moniker for the home of the Oshawa Generals.

The current $775,000 contract 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.

Current estimates and comparisons to other OHL arenas suggest that value should be more than triple.

“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.

The plan also notes that Front Row Market had been retained at the start of last year to begin analyzing data and begin marketing the naming rights.

When contacted for comment, GM would not confirm or deny whether it wishes to retain the rights for the arena.

“This is part of a competitive process being run by the city which owns the property. We have been a constructive part of that process, but would refer any questions you have back to the city,” wrote spokesperson Jennifer Wright in an emailed statement.

However, few details were shared on the city’s end.

“All I can tell you is the process is underway. There’s varying levels of interest,” says Ron Diskey, Oshawa’s commissioner of community services.

“Details I can’t share with you at all.”

Across the Ontario Hockey League, numerous 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 Collisum 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.

According to Diskey, the city plans to have a new contract wrapped up by the end of the third quarter of 2016.