FACE TO FACE: What's in a name - and $40 million - for a stadium?
Iam flabbergasted that Premier Christy Clark's BC Liberals have turned down a $35-million offer by Telus to put its moniker on BC Place.
Out of all the commentary on this issue I think The Province's Michael Smyth put it best: "Let me get this straight," he wrote. "This government is so broke that teachers are on strike, disabled people are kicked out of group homes and hospital patients are triaged in a Tim Hortons doughnut shop Yet this same penniless government is willing to kiss off $35 million because citizens can't bear to part with the 'iconic' name 'BC Place'?"
Not only should the government have taken the money as originally planned but this deal could have been the model for future corporate naming arrangements in British Columbia.
Throughout B.C., municipalities have been selling naming rights for city facilities for years.
In 2004, the Jim Pattison Group paid $1.25 million over 10 years to put the Save-On Foods name on Victoria's arena. The Vancouver Canadians Baseball Club now plays at Scotiabank Park at Nat Bailey Stadium. Last summer, Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts broached the idea of selling naming rights to SkyTrain stations as a means to raise money for our cash-strapped transit system.
Jurisdictions in the United States have already started doing this with great success. In Philadelphia, for example, one station is called the AT&T station.
Telus Station at Pinetree Way sounds good to me if it helps improve our transit system.
How about letting corporations name our local parks? Let's approach cell phone provider Fido to sponsor one of our off-leash dog parks. Fido Park has a nice ring, doesn't it? Let's get sponsors for the cafeterias at our public schools to help fund some of the BCTF's demands. How about the libraries? The Tri-City News Port Moody Public Library?
OK, I'm exaggerating, a little.
But with ballooning costs, an aging population and a tax-fatigued electorate, all levels of government are going to have to be more creative when it comes to raising money. Moving forward, corporate naming rights, along with public/private partnerships, will need to be a part any government's revenue mix.
I would have thought our supposedly right-of-centre, free-enterprise provincial government would have thought so, too.
Andy Radia is a Coquitlam resident and political columnist who writes for Yahoo! Canada News and Vancouver View Magazine. He has been politically active in the Tri-Cities, having been involved with election campaigns at all three levels of government, including running for Coquitlam city council in 2005.