Long after the Canada Summer Games wraps up 17 days of athletic competition in Winnipeg this August, the city will be left with a daily reminder of all the hard work that went into preparing for and hosting the country's largest multisport event for young athletes.
The Canada Games Sport for Life Centre – a downtown administrative and sports training complex – will forever bear the Canada Games name and logo as a condition of having hosted the Games July 28 to Aug. 13.
Likewise, Red Deer, Alta., which is staging the Canada Winter Games Feb. 15 to March 3, 2019, has agreed to brand a new sports facility that it's constructing on the Red Deer College campus, as the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.
The Canada Games, held every two years in a different region of the country, alternating between the Summer and Winter Games, attracts tens of thousands of athletes, coaches and visitors.
Host cities are required to designate a local facility – either a new build or a renovation – as the Games' legacy building. That's why you'll find Canada Games centres dotting the country from Whitehorse to Atlantic Canada, including one of the first, the New Westminster Canada Games Pool, where the competitions were held in 1973.
The Canada Games Council (CGC) rule about the in-perpetuity naming of legacy facilities is "non-negotiable," according to president David Patterson. However, the Ottawa-based organization bucks a trend in the market where naming deals are being signed for 10, 15 or 20 years at the most.
Perpetuity agreements are more common in commemorative namings where a sponsor or donor is recognized for a significant contribution, explains Bernie Colterman, managing partner of the Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing (CEPSM) in Ottawa.
"Those are more contribution or donation-based situations than part of a marketing or sponsorship strategy. There is quite a difference between the two."
CGC doesn't attach a monetary value to its naming requirement, precisely because "we are not looking for any of the normal commercial deliverables, such as trying to increase market share," Mr. Patterson says. "It's about ensuring that the memory of the Canada Games and the memory of what the community did to make them happen stays in that community."
CGC has written the policy into its hosting standards, directing that the words "Canada Games" and "Jeux du Canada" as well as the Canada Games logo must be "incorporated in the name of at least one major facility that is built or renovated for the Games, and the naming rights remain in perpetuity," according to the policy document.
"Bricks and mortar is a powerful, long-lasting and important symbol for the Games," Mr. Patterson adds. "Thousands of volunteers make the event happen, and thousands of athletes come from across Canada prepared for the Games. We want that legacy to live on, and not to fade into the background."
Winnipeg was in a bit of a chicken-and-egg scenario a few years ago when it decided to bid on the 2017 Games.
Sport Manitoba, the lead agency for developing amateur sport in the province, was well into the first phase of its Sport for Life Centre, a 200,000-square-foot renovation/build-out that houses the offices of more than 70 provincial sport organizations, a conference centre, education, resource and training space, the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame, and a sport medicine centre.
As part of Winnipeg's bid proposal, Sport Manitoba offered its project as the Games' legacy facility and to alter its name to the Canada Games Sport for Life Centre in order to meet the CGC's perpetuity naming requirement.
"The entire facility is privately owned by Sport Manitoba and while it was not built specifically for the Canada Games, we felt that branding it and recognizing it as the key legacy facility for the Games made a lot of sense because it's really going to be the hub for amateur sports development in the province," explains Jeff Hnatiuk, president and chief executive officer of the 2017 Canada Summer Games.
The project's second phase involves the construction of a brand new sports training, high performance and fitness complex at the site. Finishing touches are now being put on the building, which is named the Qualico Training Centre as part of a 10-year naming rights deal with the Winnipeg-based real estate firm.
CGC and Winnipeg's host society worked out an agreement so that Qualico keeps its name on the new training facility – where the Games' basketball and indoor volleyball competitions will take place this summer – and Sport Manitoba is free to negotiate future exterior naming rights on that aspect of the complex, as well as pursue additional naming and other sponsorship opportunities inside the building.
"We're in the early stages of selling traditional sponsorships to certain interior components of the facility such as our fitness or performance levels, and potentially our studios," says Kim Browning, director of marketing for Sport Manitoba. "These would be for fixed terms, anywhere from two to four years, and in some cases would be bundled with some of the programs we'll run inside the building. We're seeing more companies that are looking for programming to align with beyond only putting their name on bricks and mortar."
In Red Deer, the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre has been named to recognize both the coming Winter Games and a $5-million donation by Mr. Harris, a local businessman and philanthropist.
The Winnipeg and Red Deer Games are just two examples of how the CGC works with host cities to help ensure a facility's ongoing financial health.
"Our requirements are quite specific, but they don't preclude other commercial opportunities, and that's on purpose," Mr. Patterson adds. "We want to ensure that a municipality has the ability to successfully run a venue so that it continues to be a contributor to the community for a long time after the Games."