In a bid to raise more funds for programming, Brampton could “sell” naming rights to public facilities.
The report, on its way to the city’s Community and Public Services committee on September 7, outlines how selling off naming rights on a short to long-term basis could allow for the funding of programs outside the use of property taxes.
Demand for new facilities and more programming is always an issue, and the options presented in the report may help ease funding constraints.
The report by the Centre of Excellence in Public Service Marketing (CEPSM) estimates the city could earn at least $2,877,000 after five years, but it would cost $878,000 to pay for internal and external staffing costs of the program. Last year, the city produced $538,066 in sponsorship internally.
Proposed projects include “selling” naming rights to newer and large public recreation centres, arts facilities, and parks, and the sponsorship of programs that serve large groups of residents.
Naming rights would be the most lucrative, but could prove to be controversial. Most parks are excluded from the conversation, and facilities wouldn’t be renamed, but would have a sponsor name added as a prefix. The names would be “rented” on a yearly basis for several years.
The city would try to ensure that sponsors are relevant fits to facilities, but there is no guarantee for that. What’s more likely, identified in the report, is that local developers, businesses, and auto retailers would step up.
The Brampton Soccer Centre, at Dixie and Sandalwood, sees an average of 605,920 people per year. Naming rights to this facility could bring in an estimated $75,000 per year to the city.
If the centre, plus each of its fields, meeting rooms, cricket pitches, dance studio and splash pad, all had sponsor naming, it would net the city around $189,000 per year.
Chinguacousy Park’s name isn’t on the auction block (ceremonial names like Chris Gibson or Cassie Campbell are proposed not to have a sponsor prefix), but in total each of its facilities renamed could earn the city $137,000 annually.
Arts and culture facilities are also included in the proposals: naming rights for the Rose Theatre are estimated at $100,000 per year.
Currently, the city allows sponsorship for big events like Canada Day and would expand the program for other annual events. Whether the city should actually implement this proposal is another question. For example, by 2018, the city’s Parks and Recreation operating budget (page 221) is estimated to be $38,060,000.
By CEPSM’s estimates, the sponsorship program will have produced a net revenue of $222,000 by then. This would be enough to offset approximately 0.58 per cent of the city’s budget. Five years out, the city would save $3.22 per resident of Brampton with the current estimated population of 620,000. The population in 2021 will likely be higher, making savings per resident even less.
Resident Lisa Stokes disagrees with the proposal. She says, “Brampton facilities are currently named for local people and places. At a time when it is becoming increasingly difficult to escape paid advertising, the City of Brampton should not be selling its citizens’ eyes to corporations for 64 cents per person per year.”
Many cities have looked to selling or renting naming rights in the past. The results have varied. Saskatoon received millions in the past to build and operate parks, art galleries, and bridges. In contrast, CN Rail has lasting branding with the CN Tower, but hasn’t paid for the name on the federal asset since the 1990s.
Ottawa worked with CEPSM and the first few years of sponsorship in our nation’s capital hasn’t produced much additional revenue in comparison to existing municipal programs.
Cover image by Saku Takakasahi via Wikimedia Commons.