Pepsi Centre name change, governance transfer on pace for end of summer

Published on June 20, 2014
People enter the Pepsi Centre on Thursday, June 19, 2014. The city hopes to soon determine how a transfer of governance of the centre from Memorial University will proceed.

Geraldine Brophy

It’s a work in progress that will take all summer, but the City of Corner Brook hopes to soon determine how a transfer of governance of the Pepsi Centre from Memorial University will proceed.

The city and Grenfell Campus announced in March the operation of the civic centre through the separately incorporated entity Western Sports and Entertainment was coming to an end after eight years. In the two weeks that followed, a working group led by Mayor Charles Pender and Mary Bluechardt, vice-president of Grenfell, was formed. Since then, the group has been working out a memorandum of understanding on how to proceed.

That memorandum of understanding is in the final stages of preparation and Pender expects it will be brought forth to the rest of city council within the next week or two for approval.

“After that, we will start moving through the different elements of what we need to do to transfer, provided that both council and the university agree to a final agreement,” said the mayor.

Council’s discussion of the document will not likely take place at a public meeting, however. Pender said it may contain legalities and, possibly, elements pertaining to human resources issues that will preclude it from being dealt with at a public meeting.

“We’ll have to review it first before we can determine if it can be released publicly,” said Pender.

Nonetheless, the city and the university are hoping for the transfer of governance to occur sometime between mid-July to late August, but more likely the later date.

The working group has also been entertaining suggestions for and expressions of interest in the naming rights of the Pepsi Centre. A 10-year contract with Browning Harvey expired at the end of February, but the city decided to carry on with the Pepsi Centre name until a new name is decided on.

The Pender administration rejected the lone expression of interest received under the previous city council. The new council felt it could get a better deal for the naming rights if a concerted effort was put into enhancing the value of the civic centre by increasing how much the facility gets used.

Pender said there have been “a couple” of inquiries regarding the naming rights in recent weeks, but the city will wait for the transfer of governance before moving forward with a new name. He said city council will want to see how KPMG, the consultant hired to conduct an organizational and operational review of the city, deals with recommendations regarding the centre.

Pender said Browning Harvey may be availing of some unexpected free advertising, but keeping the civic centre called the Pepsi Centre for the time being is a convenience for the city.

“It would have meant we would have to change the name on the building, change the letterhead (on correspondence) and all the advertising and marketing,” he said. “And we don’t have a new name to put on it yet. Why would you change the name for three months and then change it again?”