Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Convention centre selling name

Money to help fund expansion

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The Winnipeg Convention Centre will be getting a new name.

The WCC announced Thursday it plans to follow the lead of a number of other Canadian convention centres and sell the naming rights to its sprawling downtown facility, which will soon be undergoing a long-awaited and much-talked-about $180-million-plus expansion and renovation.

President and CEO Klaus Lahr said Winnipeg-based Thompson Sports and Entertainment, a leading naming rights and sports business consulting firm, has been hired to come up with an estimate of the value of the naming rights, and to facilitate the search for the right corporate partner.

"It will be known as the XYZ Convention Centre in Winnipeg," he said. "It will be like the Telus Convention Centre in Calgary, the Shaw Convention Centre in Edmonton or the Scotiabank Centre in Niagara Falls."

He noted the owners of Winnipeg's three major-league sports venues have also gone this route.

"It's the same kind of idea."

Lahr said the proceeds from the sale of the naming rights -- he wouldn't speculate on how much money that might be -- will be used to help pay for the recently announced expansion.

In addition to the naming rights of the building, the WCC will also be selling the naming rights to various venues within the building, such as the new ballroom, the exhibit hall, the presentation theatre and the meeting halls.

Lahr said Thompson Sports will be contacting a variety of local, national and international companies and philanthropists who might be interested in acquiring the naming rights. He expects there will be a good response.

"With the expansion, the Winnipeg Convention Centre will nearly double in size, creating an iconic building in a highly visible location in the heart of downtown," he said. "With all the great things happening in our city, we've already been approached by potential corporate partners who are ready to invest in our new facility and the future of Winnipeg."

Lahr said WCC officials aren't in a rush to select a corporate partner, but they do want a deal done before the new addition, which will be built on a parking lot south of the existing facility, is slated to open in the first quarter of 2016.

Thompson Sports president and CEO Jeff Thompson also described the convention centre naming rights as a unique marketing and branding opportunity.

"Being a part of this exciting endeavour will put a company's name in front of over 664,000 people who will visit the facility or take in one of its almost 750 events every year, which include consumer and trade shows, conventions, corporate events and national celebrations such as the Junos, Grey Cup and Tim Hortons Brier," he said. "Combined with foot traffic through the building, there could be almost a million yearly impressions."

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 1, 2013 B1

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