Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Canwest name swept aside

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One wonders how die-hard Winnipeg Goldeye fans would feel if the name of their beloved stadium was changed from Canwest Park to Shaw Park.

It might be a bitter pill for some, but it is not beyond the realm of imagination.

That's because the Canwest name is now not so much a brand as, well, just a plain old word.

When it closed the long, drawn-out acquisition of bankrupt Canwest Global Communications Corp. last week, newly named Shaw Media made it clear that the Canwest word, as it is associated with the former company, will be retired.

Hours after the final closing, Canwest's signage outside its broadcast centre on swanky Bloor Street in Toronto came down.

But the Canwest name lingers just as prominently as ever in Winnipeg.

Baseball season is over and it looks like the Goldeyes will be playing in a new league next year and its stadium will also have a new name.

It's not yet known what that name will be and a spokesman for the Goldeyes would say only that talks have begun with Shaw over what will become of the naming rights.

Shaw acquired the Canwest name in its purchase of the bankrupt company, so one assumes that it does have some standing regarding the future name of the ball park whose rights have been prepaid.

It has been said that Shaw is looking to increase its brand awareness in markets like Winnipeg, where it doesn't necessarily have the highest profile despite the fact its cable television and high-speed Internet business have been reaping millions of dollars in revenue for years.

While getting the naming rights to a charming minor league ball park might be a perfect way to boost its brand in Winnipeg, the Canwest Global name atop the Portage and Main office tower that's now called Canwest Global Place is not likely to be changed to Shaw.

Dan Edwards, president of Creswin Properties -- the real estate company owned by the Asper family who were the founders and majority owners of Canwest -- said while nothing is going to happen over the next couple of weeks, the sign will definitely be coming down.

"The lease deal with Canwest has some term left and rights associated with it," Edwards said.

Ideally, he said, workers would remove the current signage atop the 33-storey building at the same time as a new one is erected.

The problem is, Edwards doesn't know what that new sign will say just yet.

Edwards is hoping that the building's naming rights might become an inducement for prospective new tenants for the 31st, 32nd and 33rd floors of the building that Canwest finished vacating this week.

Not counting James Richardson & Sons or Great-West Life or IGM Financial who all have their own buildings, the penthouse suite at 201 Portage has been the preferred location for city's most prominent corporate head office since the 502,000-square-foot building was built in 1990. (Federal Industries Ltd. occupied the space before Canwest moved in.)

Curiously, Wikipedia has indicated that the building is now called Shaw Place.

But the fact is, Canwest has cleared out of the tower and not counting the 30th floor location for the Global Winnipeg television studio and offices, Shaw will not be leasing premium office space in Winnipeg.

It's also not reasonable to expect the Calgary-based company will donate millions of dollars to youth theatre, university performing arts programs, management faculties or modern Jewish community centres in Winnipeg either.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 4, 2010 B8

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About Martin Cash

Martin Cash joined the Free Press in 1987 as the paper’s business columnist.

He has spent two decades chronicling the city’s business affairs.

Martin won a citation of merit from the National Newspaper Awards in 2001 for his coverage of the strike and subsequent multi-million-dollar union settlement at the Versatile tractor plant. He has also received honours and awards for his work on agriculture and technology development in Manitoba.

Martin has written a coffee-table book about the commercial and industrial make-up of the city, called Winnipeg: A Prairie Portrait.

Martin Cash on Twitter: @martycash


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