• Reeti Meenakshi Rohilla

Leamington is working on renaming some facilities

With the new agreement between the Municipality of Leamington and Lakeside Produce, two of the city’s public facilities have been renamed. The Municipal Marina is now Lakeside Marina and the Kinsmen Recreation Complex is renamed as the Nature Fresh Recreation Centre.

The Municipality of Leamington strives to cater to the needs of its residents by providing quality facilities, events and programs. The municipality is responsible to mindfully use the revenue generated from consumer taxes, user fees and other means, with consumer property tax being its highest source. New agreements such as the naming rights serve, as an alternate source of funding to improve the quality of life for the residents. Naming rights are a financial transaction and a form of advertising. The Municipality may be forced to increase property taxes, go into debt or cut back on facilities and programs without exploring this option.

Naming rights can be generalized as a form of sponsorship. As the sponsor, a person gets the opportunity to use their brand name for a facility or event, typically ranging from three to 20 years, in return for some financial considerations. High profile sports facilities like stadiums, which are known to have sparked the beginning of naming rights, are also recorded to be the facilities with the highest amount being paid for. This commodification of toponymy was first experienced during the second half of the 20th century, when professional sports were getting commercialized. The change of name of the Scotiabank Arena from Toronto’s Air Canada Centre is marked as the highest amount paid for 20-years, valued at $639 Million (CAD) for naming rights sponsorship deal.

Such naming and renaming of events and arenas may become confusing and may face criticism in the general public. People often refuse to switch to the new name, especially in colloquial situations, preferring to use the non-branded name instead. While traditionally it is the naming rights for stadiums that go for the highest bid, several other organizations and even individuals are turning to rebranding for increased funding in their business. Several new categories are exploding from selling naming rights for everything from stadiums and transit stations to even the right to brand a new species of monkeys for $650,000.

In the past decade, selling of naming rights has been increasingly embraced as a means to generate revenue for the construction and maintenance of urban infrastructure. Selling of naming rights has also tremendously grown as a result of corporate decision-maker’s view of it being a cost-effective way to reach specified marketing agendas. It assists in increasing corporate brand awareness, help introduce new products and compete with existing brands. Getting the opportunity to have a corporate brand name on a facility or event provides for ’top of the mind’ awareness among the local consumers.

The Municipality secures large amounts of revenue generated though local companies, looking to invest and give back to the community. “We live in a very generous community, and the $2 million we have received in sponsorship dollars really showcases that,” said Mayor Hilda MacDonald. “The primary drivers behind our naming-rights strategy is to recognize a donor’s community commitment and to help fund the facilities that improve the quality of life for our residents. It’s really a win-win situation because we are able to maintain and upgrade facilities without increasing property taxes to do so.”


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