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Vancouver to develop list of assets eligible for sponsorship, naming rights

The downtown Vancouver skyline is pictured. The city has launched a new initiative to develop an inventory of its assets – everything from buildings and cars to its awards programs and even its website – that could make good candidates for sponsorship and naming rights.

DARRYL DYCK/The Globe and Mail

Vancouver has seen relatively few corporate names on its civic buildings and sponsorships of its activities by private companies, even as that phenomenon proliferates elsewhere in Canada.

That could soon change.

The city has launched a new initiative to develop an inventory of its assets – everything from buildings and cars to its awards programs and even its website – that could make good candidates for sponsorship and naming rights.

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Consultants have been asked to bid on a project to develop a list of eight to 10 assets that would be the best candidates for sponsorship and corporate naming.

The bid document asks that the consultant "estimate the fair market value for those marketable components" and "provide the city with realistic revenue projections."

The push to look for these new revenue opportunities is something that Vancouver's general manager of finances says has been on her to-do list for a while.

"We felt it would be good to have a policy," Patrice Impey said. "We're not going in with any preconceived notion."

She said Vancouver has had a naming-rights policy in place for years, but not a sponsorship policy. Sponsorships are aimed at a smaller scale, offering advertising or logo positioning for events or services.

The naming-rights policy, developed in 2006, allowed for corporate names on facilities like the downtown Vancity Theatre more than a decade ago and, more recently, the BMO Theatre Centre in the city's Olympic Village neighbourhood, and the West Coast Reduction Stage at the York Theatre on Commercial Drive.

Many Canadian cities have developed sponsorship and naming-rights policies in recent years, as their cash-strapped administrators and councils have looked for new revenue options.

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One example is Peterborough, Ont., which developed a policy late last year suggesting that sponsorship and naming rights could generate $500,000.

Another is the Sponsor Winnipeg program, which invites people and companies to purchase naming rights or to sponsor everything from parks, the city archives and recreation centres, to defibrillators, garbage trucks and "high-traffic infrastructure."

The Vancouver consultant is being asked to look at the policies in other cities and then "develop the criteria to identify all marketable components (i.e. programs and facilities) associated with those assets and determine the type of sponsorships that can be leveraged, such as naming rights for a facility." In addition, it will need to explain why some assets are not appropriate for naming rights or sponsorships.

The final report is supposed to "provide the City with realistic revenue projections and return on investment based on various sponsorship/agreement terms (e.g. 5, 10, 15, 20 years)" and "suggest how the city can maximize the market value of these assets or potential revenues via targeted sponsorships and bundling."

Besides physical city property that might be eligible, the bid document lists several other categories of assets that could be candidates.

Among them: the Mayor's Arts Awards, Heritage Awards, Urban Design Awards, the city's summer street-events program known as VIVA, the celebrations for Canada's 150th birthday in 2017 and the Keep Vancouver Spectacular program, which promotes cleaning up city streets.

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The city's website, its mobile apps and its WiFi channels are also listed as possibilities.

Asked if anything is up for grabs – for example, a Lululemon City Hall – Ms. Impey laughed and said: "I highly doubt that."

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About the Author
Urban affairs contributor

Frances Bula has written about urban issues and city politics in B.C.’s Vancouver region, covering everything from Downtown Eastside drug addiction to billion-dollar development projects, since 1994. More

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