Ottawa considers selling naming rights to buildings

The City of Ottawa looks to generate additional revenue by selling the naming rights to some municipal buildings and facilities.
Some well-known Ottawa building and facilites could be getting new names. ((Jean-Luc Henry))

The City of Ottawa is looking to generate additional revenue by selling the naming rights to some municipal buildings and facilities.

The city currently pulls in about $5 million a year through sponsorship and advertising. Officials estimate that number could increase by $3.4 million by 2014.

Coun. Mark Taylor said the city really has no other choice.

"There was a time when the tax base could support everything that folks were looking for," he said.

"That day has come and gone, and now we have to make sure we're capitalizing on every other opportunity."

The proposal includes allowing corporate sponsorship of city programs and events, exclusive contracts known as "pouring rights" for drink manufacturers, as well as increasing paid advertising on city property through exterior billboards and advertising on flat screens inside city buildings.

Buildings, facilities could get new names

However, the single largest potential generator is exclusive naming rights for city buildings. Officials have identified 16 recreation facilities for possible re-branding, including the Nepean Sportsplex, Kanata Leisure Centre and the St-Laurent Complex.

"What we want to make sure is that folks don't get the sense that we've, you know, kind of sold out and all we're doing is letting big business and advertising take over the city," Taylor said.

"We would definitely not want that to happen so we want to make sure that when we roll out this program, it's in a responsible fashion so that we can get the advertising revenue, the business revenue, but at the same time people don't get a sense that we've kind of sold the name of the city."

Coun. Jan Harder said the city will ensure the new names reflect community values.

"But I think if Pepsi or a high-tech company or Waste Management wants to have their names over the diving pool at the Nepean Sportsplex, that's A-OK with me," she said.

Buildings named after individuals would remain unchanged but facilities within those buildings, like arenas or pools, could be open to corporate sponsorship.

The city's finance and economic development committee will discuss the proposal Tuesday.