Edmonton exploring sale of naming rights of recreational centres to corporate sponsors

A proposal is before Edmonton City Council to sell the naming rights of the Clareview Community Recreation and Centre.

Edmonton city council is exploring the possibility of selling the naming rights of certain recreational centres in the city.

It’s a concept the City of Edmonton began exploring two years ago when the pandemic took a chunk out of municipal revenue.

Those in favour say providing corporate sponsorship would offset some city costs.

Clareview Community Recreation Centre, for instance, would be called the Jumpstart Community Recreation Centre at Clareview – named after the Canadian Tire-backed charity.

“It doesn’t feel right, it won’t feel personal anymore,” one Edmontonian told CityNews.

“No problem with it at all,” added another. “Because then they can help sponsor, maybe get new things for the rec centre, the community.”

Clareview is one of five rec centres with proposed naming rights sold, with the potential for just under $500,000 in revenue annually.

It’s expected to go before council on Oct. 3.

The exact details of the contract are not public, but they include a commitment to new initiatives and programing that increase access to the centre for marginalized and vulnerable groups.

Clareview Community Recreation Centre on Sept. 12, 2022. (Credit: CityNews/Carly Robinson)

Renaming public spaces is not without precedence in Edmonton. There’s already the Jumpstart Inclusive Playground at Clareview District Park. Though some say the big difference is the playground was built with donations, some coming from the company.

When it comes to rec centres, those are community funded.

Jumpstart’s application received support from a number of charity partners such as Free Play for Kids, Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society, REACH Edmonton, The Steadward Centre and Paralympic Sports Association.

One city councillor has his issues with the selling of naming rights for recreational centres. For Michael Janz, it’s not the specific name or company gaining the rights that’s problematic, but the concept.

“When we sell off naming rights to corporations or charities or businesses, I think it kind of cheapens not just the asset, but it kind of cheapens ourselves as a community,” he said. “And I’m really concerned about that.

“It’s a slippery slope that I’m really not OK with.”

According to a recent survey on behalf of the city, 62 per cent of respondents were either somewhat or very comfortable with the sale and temporary naming of select recreation facilities to offset the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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