Early last year, the provincial government nixed a $35-million deal with Telus, an agreement that would have renamed the recently renovated BC Place Stadium to “Telus Park” for the next 20 years. Although it was publicly known that the telecommunications giant was upset with the province’s abrupt change of heart, negotiations are now back on the table ten months after the initial standoff.
The naming rights sponsorship deal was canceled when the provincial government opted to retain the “BC Place” name, citing that the facility has been well-known under this banner and name for the past 30 years. It also claimed the $35-million deal over 20 years was not sufficient for the renaming of the iconic stadium, and that the company’s proposed exterior “Telus Park” illuminated signage was much larger than what was originally agreed upon.
Both parties were highly confident in their original deal, to the point that Telus began to install its telecommunications infrastructure inside BC Place, including free Wi-Fi. Telus even commissioned for the manufacture of the contested “Telus Park” exterior signs. Altogether, Telus installed between $10-million to $15-million worth of equipment inside the stadium in anticipation of the naming rights deal. However, because the deal fell apart and seemed irreparable, the provincial government was also required to compensate Telus for its goods and services it had already provided for the stadium.
The potentially large compensation bill to Telus and additional research into naming rights deals in North America may have been the cause for province’s new stance and willingness to return to the negotiating table. The deal’s offer may have been favourable to the province and Pavco (the crown corporation that manages BC Place and the Vancouver Convention Centre) after all. This revenue would go towards the operational and maintenance costs of the stadium.
There has also been friction between the MLS Vancouver Whitecaps and Pavco over the team’s branding of the stadium’s soccer field during games as the “Bell Pitch.” Moving forward, there could very well be conflicts between the two telecommunications giants under the same roof – one as the stadium’s naming rights sponsor and the other as the largest sponsor of the Whitecaps.
Now if only competition also existed in the Canadian telecommunications marketplace…
Written and researched by Kenneth Chan, a Columnist at Vancity Buzz. Follow Kenneth on Twitter: @kjmagine
Featured image credit: Telus