Greater Victoria hockey and music fans will continue to go to an arena with a grocery store name for games and concerts.
RG Properties and Save-on-Foods announced Friday a 10-year extension on naming rights for Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre. The original deal was signed in 2004, as the arena was being built. The naming agreement now runs through 2024.
Vancouver-based RG Properties operates the 7,006-seat facility, which is owned by the City of Victoria.
The original agreement was for $1.25 million over 10 years. Terms of the new deal were not disclosed. “We are a private company and it’s not in our best interest to do [disclose],” said Darrell Jones, president of Overwaitea Food Group, Save-on-Foods’ parent company.
Save-on-Foods has expanded to six stores from two in Greater Victoria after buying and converting Safeway stores in the region. “In the era of the Internet, an arena draws people together and this arena attracts people from all over the Island. And that’s really important in the fabric of the city,” Jones said.
RG Properties also refused to divulge a dollar figure.
The only financial information released was that the share the City of Victoria receives from the naming rights will go up 28.57 per cent. Under the old arrangement, the city received $70,000 over 10 years or $7,000 a year. In the new contract, the city will get $90,000 for 10 years or $9,000 a year.
“This is a good announcement for the citizens of Victoria … and we also continue to receive portions of all ticket sales,” said Mayor Dean Fortin.
“We’ve had people like Prince and Elton John play the building and we have the Western Hockey League and the Royals. It’s been an amazing 10 years and we’ve built memories for people in this community. [The Memorial Centre] has made this city come alive in so many ways. This partnership keeps this affordable for the community and helps pay down the debt for this building.”
Dave Dakers, RG Properties president for sports and entertainment, said Save-on-Foods wasn’t alone in expressing interest in naming rights.
“We had a number of other companies looking at the naming rights,” he said. “It was very competitive at the end. But with four more [Save-on-Foods] stores in the region, there is better reach and a lot more chances for community involvement overall.”
Reuben Rose-Redwood, associate professor in the University of Victoria department of geography, received a research grant to study the naming-rights program in Winnipeg, and naming rights generally.
“You are taking facilities that are symbolic of a city’s identity and putting up for sale to corporations the rights to name them. The question is: Are you getting enough revenue to make it worthwhile?” Rose-Redwood said.
“It is estimated 15 per cent of all Canadian municipalities have an instance of at least one [public] facility with a naming-rights agreement. So the vast majority of municipalities don’t have them.”
Graham Lee, owner of RG Properties and the Victoria Royals, said the naming contract extension is “a win-win and fair deal.”
“It’s a big commitment for [Save-on-Foods],” he said. “There are a lot of elements here,” including the possibility of tickets sales in Save-on-Foods stores.