Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Big bank's name on big hall

Convention centre gives RBC rights for naming

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Canada's biggest bank will soon have its name splashed all over one of Winnipeg's most iconic downtown facilities -- the Winnipeg Convention Centre.

The WCC announced Tuesday the RBC Royal Bank has won the naming rights to its downtown complex for a 10-year period.

The new name -- the RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg -- won't appear on the outside of the WCC's York Avenue building until Jan. 1, 2016, when the naming-rights agreement officially takes effect. That's around the same time the WCC also hopes to open its $180-million-plus, three-storey addition that will begin taking shape later this year on a parking lot across the street on the south side of York Avenue.

But WCC president and CEO Klaus Lahr said the new name will begin appearing long before then on things such as WCC napkins, uniforms and letterhead as new products and supplies are ordered.

'We're very excited to be a part of this. It's one of very few buildings in North America we've attached our name to'

He said RBC was one of about 150 local, national and international companies WCC officials approached about acquiring the complex's naming rights. That was eventually pared down to a short list of half a dozen firms.

Lahr wouldn't say if any local companies made the short list, or how much RBC paid for the naming rights. Rob Johnston, RBC's regional president for Manitoba and Saskatchewan, also wouldn't disclose that information.

Lahr said WCC officials are thrilled to have RBC's name attached to the facility.

"RBC has played a significant role in the history of our country and having their support is monumental. This agreement is a further sign of the significance of our expansion as we continue to remain competitive in the Canadian convention industry and reposition ourselves in the community."

Johnston sounded equally thrilled, telling reporters, "We're very excited to be a part of this. It's one of very few buildings in North America we've attached our name to... but this one is special and we wanted to support it and to support the city."

Tuesday's announcement, which was held on a second-floor, rooftop patio overlooking the site of the WCC expansion, drew a crowd of local business and political officials. They included Premier Greg Selinger, Mayor Sam Katz, and Winnipeg South Centre MP Joyce Bateman, there on behalf of the federal government.

Bateman pointed to a backhoe that was busy tearing up chucks of pavement from the surface parking lot where the addition is to be built.

"Today, work begins to modernize one of Winnipeg's most iconic meeting places," she said.

Selinger and Katz noted the WCC expansion/upgrade is another important step in the ongoing efforts to revitalize downtown Winnipeg and to attract more visitors to the city.

The 340,000-square-foot addition will double the size of the WCC, which Katz noted was Canada's first free-standing convention centre when it opened in 1975. The expansion will make it the fourth-largest publicly owned convention centre in Canada, with the capacity to accommodate conventions of up to 3,000 delegates.

The expansion is also expected to trigger a number of related developments in the downtown, including the construction of two new hotels.

Winnipeg's Lakeview Management Inc. plans to build an $11-million Lakeview Inn & Suites hotel immediately west of the existing WCC building. And CentreVenture Development Corp. has purchased the Carlton Inn immediately north of the WCC with the intention of demolishing it to make way for what is expected to be a new international-brand hotel.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 3, 2013 B4

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Updated on Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at 6:53 AM CDT: Replaces photo, adds video

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