City will ask the public what should be done with Pepsi Centre naming rights

Gary Kean gkean@thewesternstar.com
Published on February 14, 2014
The City of Corner Brook is going to make an attempt to improve the amount of traffic and use the Pepsi Centre gets before proceeding with awarding a new deal for the facility’s naming rights.
Star photo by Geraldine Brophy

The City of Corner Brook is going to make an attempt to improve the amount of traffic and use the Pepsi Centre gets before proceeding with awarding a new deal for the facility’s naming rights.

In February 2004, Browning Harvey signed a 10-year deal worth $500,000 — paid out in annual installments of $50,000 —  for the right to call the facility the Pepsi Centre.

Last July, the City of Corner Brook, which owns the regional civic centre, issued a request for proposals for the naming rights. Interested parties had until Sept. 17 to submit their proposals.

Since then, there has been a municipal election and the task of dealing with the request for proposals has become a decision to be made by the newly elected council.

Thursday, Mayor Charles Pender told The Western Star that he is aware of only one bid having been submitted. However, that bid did not meet the expectations of council and the city is going to revisit the whole issue.

“We are working on plans to increase the usership of the centre, so we think it would be premature to accept any offer that comes through the door just to have a name on it,” said Pender.

The bid received was simply lower than what council had hoped.

“We understand why it is lower than in the past,” said the mayor. “One reason in particular, there seemingly — over the last couple of years — has been a lot less traffic in the Pepsi Centre, especially with no senior hockey.”

Pender said the city will be exploring different options in the coming months in terms of how space is used at the centre and how traffic can be increased there. He said the process will include asking city residents what they think should be done with the naming rights.

The city hopes to be in a better position to decide what route it will go by around the end of June, said Pender.

“There are all kinds of things we want to look at and we want to have some discussions,” said Pender.  “That will include seeking public input. Some people think we should sell the name and get what revenues we can. Others think we should just change it to a name that better reflects the history of the building.”

For the time being, the city has reached an agreement with Browning Harvey to carry on with the Pepsi Centre name until a decision is made on how to proceed.

Browning Harvey did submit a proposal by last September’s deadline to maintain the naming rights.

Blair Patrick, Browning Harvey’s director of marketing, said the company is waiting for council to make a decision. Browning Harvey has been pleased with the tremendous exposure its brand has received in the past decade.

“Every reference to the centre in media reports and advertising has always been the Pepsi Centre,” he said. “By all means we have certainly enjoyed a nice 10-year tenure.”