Goodbye ACC, hello Scotiabank Arena! Home of Leafs, Raptors has new name

The home of Toronto's Maple Leafs and Raptors has a new name — marking the end of an era for Canada's busiest sports and entertainment venue.

Toronto's busiest sports arena, formerly the Air Canada Centre, unveils rebranding

Scotiabank Arena was unveiled as the new name for the home of Toronto's Maple Leafs and Raptors on Canada Day — marking the end of an era and earning mixed reviews from fans. (Trevor Dunn/CBC)

Goodbye Air Canada Centre, hello Scotiabank Arena.

The home of Toronto's Maple Leafs and Raptors has a new name — marking the end of an era for Canada's busiest sports and entertainment venue.

The Scotiabank logo replaced that of Air Canada atop the Bay Street building on Canada Day. That's when the 20-year sponsorship agreement between Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) and Scotiabank kicked in. 

The sign for the new Scotiabank Arena was hoisted above the Bay Street building on July 1. (CBC)

The Canadian bank's record-setting $800-million deal for the naming rights of the stadium, that also houses the Toronto Rock of the National Lacrosse League and serves as a premier stage for music, signified a major shift in the sports marketing landscape.   

Under the the terms of the deal, first announced in late August of 2017, Scotiabank will pay a reported $40 million a year. The price tag is enormous. It's more than 10 times what Air Canada paid for the inaugural rights nearly two decades ago.  

"Our goal is to ensure, working with MLSE, that when you come down here in the fall for first puck drop or tip off, you feel different," John Doig, executive vice-president of Scotiabank, said Tuesday in an interview with CBC Toronto. 

The switch of the Air Canada Centre to Scotiabank Arena caught many Toronto fans off guard when it was announced in August last year. (NBAE/Getty Images)

Air Canada has held the naming rights to the arena since it opened in 1999. The ACC is even an acronym rooted in the city's vernacular. 

And it's clear it will take some Leafs and Raptors fans time to adopt the new name.

"It's kind of like the Rogers Centre just up the street. It will always be the Skydome to me," Toronto resident Rob Robinson said.

A hashtag "ACCforever" has been created for Torontonians to tweet their memories.  

While Doig recognizes that "change is difficult" for Toronto fans, he explains that Scotiabank is striving to "do a really good job at improving the fan experience" at Scotiabank Arena. 

A first step is adding MLSE to its SCENE loyalty program, which will now be handing out reward points to sports and music fans who buy tickets. 

The bank will also be installing a larger, more "complete" interactive sign ahead of the start of the National Hockey League's season in October, as the current one is only temporary. 

"I do believe that over time, Scotiabank Arena or Scotia Arena, will be the name of this great building," said Doig. 

Scotiabank has added its name below the jumbo scoreboard inside the arena. (Trevor Dunn/CBC)

A renovation of the main gates to improve the flow of people and enhance security to help fans take their seats faster is also on Scotiabank's to-do list.  

Inside, the bank is doing a makeover of the jumbo scoreboard, adding its logo below, and rebuilding the former Air Canada Club — now dubbed Scotia Club. Concrete floors, and exposed walls and ceilings will be added in the area over the summer, said Nick Eaves, chief venues and operating officer of MLSE .

"We're going to renovate it to reflect the new brand and energy of the building," he said.

This visual rendering of Scotia Club shows what its entrance will look like once the overhaul is complete. (Scotiabank)

With files from Trevor Dunn


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