Out with KRC, in with… TGAG?
It’ll be up to local residents to come up with a new nickname for the Kanata Recreation Complex, if council confirms a naming-rights sale for the decades-old facility.
For a number of councillors, the proposed moniker – “Tony Graham Automotive Group Recreation Complex – Kanata” – was more of a mouthful than they’d prefer.
It’s “arguably a little long,” Barrhaven East Coun. Wilson Lo opined, during discussion of the deal at Tuesday’s community services committee meeting.
Dan Chenier, the city’s general manager of parks, recreation and facility services, said staff could certainly ask the applicant to reconsider. But he warned that this was the desired name as part of the auto group’s marketing efforts, and sticking with it may well be necessary to get the deal done for the city.
In return, the Tony Graham Automotive Group is giving the city $1 million over a decade. It will be used, in part, to give free summertime weight and cardio memberships across the city’s fitness facilities to kids aged 13 to 17. Chenier estimated the annual cost of doing so at roughly $30,000.
“It is their money, it is their decision in the end,” said Lo, of the proposed name. “Just worried about the implications of somebody calling it TGAG.”
It wasn’t the only concern about the name change. “You also don’t want people to think that this is actually an automotive body shop,” said River ward’s Riley Brockington.
Staff pointed out that in addition to money to cover the free fitness programming, and give the local community a small budget boost for events like Canada Day, the new name would help distinguish the facility from the nearby Kanata Leisure Centre.
It would also provide some $65,000 a year to help ease a longstanding pressure on his department’s operating budget, Chenier explained. In 2005, council created its corporate sponsorship and advertising policy, which included selling naming rights for city properties to help deliver city services and programs.
Chenier said his department has been carrying “a fairly significant sponsorship and advertising revenue target since that time.” But that target hasn’t been reached successfully in any year to date.
The hole between budgeted and confirmed revenue is now $800,000 annually. The gap used to be much larger, said Chenier, but the city has cut it down over time by reducing the revenue target and cutting the number of staff working on the file.
“We’ve never been able to attract as many corporate sponsors as our consultants back in 2005 imagined that we would,” Chenier explained in an interview.
“We think what’s there now is achievable post-pandemic, but it’ll take some time as businesses recover, and start to get interested in sponsorship and advertising again.”
Area councillor Allan Hubley (Kanata South) was all-in on the Tony Graham proposal. “This family’s well-known in the city. They’re great citizens.”
The naming-rights deal ultimately won the committee’s unanimous support, and is headed to council for final sign-off.