Nova Scotia

Fitness, beer companies to sponsor skating oval

Two big corporate names are joining the battle to save the 2011 Canada Games skating oval on the Halifax Common.

Two big corporate names are joining the battle to save the 2011 Canada Games skating oval on the Halifax Common.

GoodLife Fitness has offered cash in return for naming it the GoodLife Oval, CBC News has learned.

"GoodLife has mentioned $200,000," John Gillis, of the Save the Oval committee, said Thursday.

Molson Coors is also in discussions with the committee, Gillis said.

Molson Coors executive Brian Harriman said his company might be looking for naming rights, too, in exchange for a cash donation.

"Potentially," he said. "We have to work through the details on what that might look like."

Harriman said he went for a skate on the oval with his toddler and loved it so much, he thought his company should pitch in to save it after the games are over.

"We're going to work with Save the Oval group to try and identify how Molson can help," he said. "We just think it's a great facility, and we'd really like to work with the committee to save the oval."

The beer giant still has to confirm its contribution — whether it's cash or proceeds from sales or a combination.

A third mystery donor is pledging $100,000 over four or five years. The donation will likely be officially announced next week.

An online petition to keep the outdoor oval was launched on Jan. 4 by the Save the Oval committee, and has gathered thousands of names.

The committee wants the artificial skating surface to become a permanent fixture. Right now, the oval is scheduled to be dismantled in March after the Canada Games, which run from Feb. 11 to 27.

Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly has said it would cost $250,000 per year to maintain the oval.

Gillis launched the fundraising campaign, hoping to raise $50,000.

"We are trying to optimize the situation," he said. "When they [city council] look at it, and look at the hard numbers, they can say, 'We can do this.'

The thought of branding and signage worries Katie Campbell, who is against keeping the oval on the Halifax Common.

"Sometimes it's very ugly," she said. "I'm worried that the Commons will look like a commercial space, and that it will lose the natural beauty that it has now."

Campbell launched a petition Jan. 12 against keeping the oval as a permanent fixture. It has about 64 signatures.

The public pressure — both for and against — still has weeks to build. Halifax Regional Council will decide the future of the oval in March, after receiving a staff report on exactly how much it will cost to operate.