5 things to know about the Copps Coliseum renaming

Here are five facts about the renaming of Copps Coliseum.
FirstOntario Credit Union and Global Spectrum are hammering out an agreement to rename Copps Coliseum. City councillors have approved it. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

On Monday, city councillors voted to allow Copps Coliseum to be renamed FirstOntario Centre. 

Copps Coliseum is named after long-time mayor Victor K. Copps, the patriarch of a Hamilton political family. That family includes former MPP and MP Sheila Copps, and Victor Copps's wife, Geraldine, who was a long-time councillor.

FirstOntario Credit Union is paying $3.5 million over 10 years for the naming rights. The deal will be between FirstOntario and Global Spectrum, the company that manages the coliseum. But city councillors have to approve it.

Here are five key facts of the renaming.

1. The Copps family is OK with it — mostly.

The Copps family was consulted early in the process, and most are in favour. One of Victor Copps’s daughters is not. Scott Warren of Global Spectrum read a letter from Sheila Copps during Monday’s meeting where she said that she understands how expensive it is to run the facility.

“I’m open to this partnership between Global Spectrum and FirstOntario Credit Union because both organizations are committed to the growth and revitalization of Hamilton, the same as my father was,” she wrote.

2. It will be named after a local company.

At least four companies were interested in the naming rights of Copps Coliseum. Warren said Global Spectrum chose FirstOntario Credit Union in part because it’s a Hamilton-based company. Several councillors also cited that as one reason they were OK with the renaming. FirstOntario started in Stoney Creek as Stelco Credit Union in 1939.

Global Spectrum didn't issue a broad request to find companies interested in the naming rights. But Global Spectrum talked to "at least four companies" about the possibility, Warren said.

3. The city won’t make any direct money from it.

FirstOntario will pay $3.5 million for the naming rights for 10 years. That’s less the amount of money it will cost to change the signs. That money goes to Global Spectrum to run the facility. Under an existing agreement to share some advertising revenue, some of it goes to the Hamilton Bulldogs too.

Local taxpayers could eventually benefit, but indirectly. In previous years, the city has subsidized operation of Copps Coliseum. Once Global Spectrum breaks even — which it expects to do this year — it starts to share its profits with the city. For every $1 above the threshold, the city gets 70 cents. Combine that with the city no longer needing to subsidize the coliseum and it means a benefit to taxpayers.

4. Victor Copps will still be honoured.

The plan is to call it FirstOntario Centre, but at three sides of the coliseum, the sign will include the words “In honour of Victor K. Copps” in smaller letters near the bottom. The rink will likely be named after Copps as well, said Kelly McGiffin, president of FirstOntario. It will become the Victor K. Copps Rink at FirstOntario Centre.

Councillors said Monday that they will look for other ways to honour Copps too. Coun. Chad Collins of Ward 5 tweeted about it.

5. It’s not over yet.

The city’s general issues committee approved the renaming on Monday. But that vote has to be ratified by city council at Wednesday’s meeting. It’s likely to pass though — the general issues committee has the exact same members as city council, and it's unlikely that councillors will change their minds from Monday. With the council vote in hand, Global Spectrum and FirstOntario will finalize the agreement. 

CBC Hamilton reporter Samantha Craggs will cover the council meeting Wednesday. You can follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC.

Also, you can weigh in on the issue by voting in our poll at the bottom of the page.