Saturday, January 8 2022

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The City of Sarnia has been trying to find naming rights sponsors for some of its assets for six years, with limited success.

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The city council earlier this month agreed to try again.

Council approved the invitation to express interest in purchasing the naming rights to Clearwater Arena – to become more of a community center with the ongoing relocation of the Mallroad Library and proposed renovations to include a new transportation terminal in common.

The goal is to start small, said city treasurer Holly Reynolds, who wrote the report to council.

“Let’s see what’s the point, see if the city can actually do this and then learn from that,” she said of the approach.

In 2015, a third-party report to council estimated that approximately $ 1.7 million per year could be generated from sponsorships for city assets, including the flagship Progressive Auto Sales Arena (PASA). city, formerly the RBC Center and the Sarnia Sports and Entertainment Center.

A sponsorship of $ 434,000 over 10 years was signed with Progressive Auto Sales in 2016.

But a five-year contract with an advertising and local marketing run later in the year, to find more sponsors for the city’s assets, did not generate “significant” revenue, Reynolds said, noting that the agreement has since ended.

Minimums of $ 5,000 to $ 25,000 per year were included in the contract.

Even PASA’s naming rights were hard won after the city issued two calls for proposals and received no response, Reynolds noted in his report.

Progressive and LiUNA were the only two to submit bids and did so outside of the city’s call for proposals window.

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In the city’s experience, there’s not much point in buying naming rights for city assets, Reynolds said, noting why it’s not clear.

If there is no naming rights interest in Clearwater, the arena’s transforming community center might just keep its name, she said.

If, conversely, there is a lot of interest, the city may begin to consider selling sponsorships for individual rinks, locker rooms, refereeing rooms and other assets like tennis courts and clubs. pavilions, she said.

“There are a lot of things that could be monetized, but there is a lot of work to be done to bring them down to this granular level,” she said.

“The city does not have the skills of the staff at the moment, neither the time nor the resources to be able to undertake this. “

Hiring to do this kind of work would likely cost more than the income it generates, she said.

“It is very, very unlikely that the city will approach a revenue figure that would result in more benefits than costs,” she said.

Hence the recommendation to start small, she said.

To go further, it would take a “solid strategy on what will be marketed and how these assets will be monetized,” said his report to the board, noting that further recommendations are pending based on what is happening with Clearwater.

Wording updates were also made to city policies on sponsorship and renaming of city properties, the most significant change allowing CAO and city directors general to accept proposals for sponsorship up to $ 50,000.

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Previously, the limit was capped at $ 5,000 before applications were submitted to the board for review.

“We realized the amount was just too small to be functional,” Reynolds said.

The senior management approval clearance would apply to things like sponsorship of a tall ship festival, Reynolds said, noting everything would always be made public.

Anything that involves renaming a building would be subject to council approval, she said.

The revised sponsorship policy is open for public comment until October 8, and the name change policy until October 18, at speakupsarnia.ca.

The policies return to the board for review on October 25.

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