FACE TO FACE: What's in a name - and $40 million - for a stadium?
Naming public facilities after corporate donors is crass. If you come up with enough money, we'll name a bridge, a stadium or, perhaps, taken to its logical conclusion, even a city or province after you.
Let's see... Pattison Place Stadium, London Drugs Bridge, Fortis Langley; and maybe, after we criss-cross the province with pipelines, we might change the name of the province to B.P.C. - British Petroleum Columbia.
Selling the naming rights of community facilities to high rollers is just plain crass.
So when, recently, the BC Liberal government turned down $35 million to $40 million from Telus in order to keep the stadium's name BC Place, that was a good thing, right?
Well, yes, if it was done as a matter of principle.
But it wasn't.
If Premier Christy Clark and company had said that selling naming rights of public facilities was not good public policy, they would have set a somewhat supportable precedent. But they didn't.
They might have said the decision to refuse the money was a difficult one because they really could use the $40 million to fund long-starved services such as education or child poverty. But they didn't.
Rather, they refused $40 million because they like the stadium's current name.
After a full year of telling teachers and schools that the cupboard is bare, that there isn't a dime left for education, they gave up $40 million to keep the name "Telus" off a stadium located 500 m from Roger's Arena?
And God knows this isn't the first time the BC Liberals have magically come up with huge sums of money to not spend on social programs.
Scant days after first announcing the net zero salary mandate for public workers, Premier Clark found $1.2 billion virtually overnight to try to bribe us into accepting the hated HST.
Ten years of serial tax cuts by the BC Liberals have culminated with a current budget that will lose B.C. $6.6 billion more in tax revenue this year and over $8 billion next year and each subsequent year.
So, although the selling of naming rights of public facilities is crass, I would rather take the $40 million and call the stadium Telus Park or Telus Place than wait for this government to find enough money to stop strangling our social programs.
Face to Face columnist Jim Nelson is a retired Tri-City teacher and principal who lives in Port Moody. He has contributed a number of columns on education-related issues to The Tri-City News.