Naming rights to the Olds Sportsplex could be up for grabs for an undetermined dollar amount under a proposal by Friends of the Grizzlys.
“As one of the smaller AJHL markets, naming rights on the arena is the single largest sponsorship opportunity before us,” said Grizzlys business consultant Mike Bagshaw during a town policies and priorities committee meeting last week.
He later clarified the proposal is to sell naming rights for the entire facility and not just the main ice arena.
Historically, the junior A hockey franchise has not generated enough revenue to become sustainable on its own, he said.
The new ownership group was saddled with a $321,579 debt when it took over operations of the club in the summer. The ownership group did raise $500,000 when it initially took over the club to help pay off debt and get the season rolling.
It still owes the Town of Olds a significant portion of more than $120,000 in outstanding debt — a discussion that was taken in-camera during the meeting.
“Our commitment was to stay current with the new group which we’ve done and then we are in the process of generating additional money from other sources to help pay off that debt,” said Bagshaw.
A team official pegged the annual operating budget at close to $700,000.
During the policies and priorities meeting, team officials pitched several strategies to increase its sponsorship and advertising revenue.
The sooner the town makes a decision on whether or not the club can go after a sponsor for naming rights, the better, said Bagshaw.
The club’s proposal would benefit all major users of the facility with funds going to each, he said.
He used the example of a naming sponsor giving $30,000 a season. The Grizzlys would receive $20,000 and the remaining $10,000 would go to other users of the facility, he suggested.
“So obviously the percentages are something we’re totally open to working with the town and council to figure out what those numbers look like,” he said.
To start, Bagshaw said a minimum three-year sponsorship would be sought but other longer agreements would be looked at as well.
Coun. Mary Jane Harper pointed out that the town already gives the Grizzlys all of the main ice board advertising revenue amounting to in excess of — in her estimation — $187,000.
“That’s why we’re looking for some kind of split to the naming rights to allow the team to have access to more money, but that also some of that money gets split back…whether it goes to the town directly or goes to other users of the facility,” said Bagshaw.
Doug Wagstaff, the town’s chief operating officer, told the committee council would have final approval on the naming if the proposal came to fruition as per the policy regarding the naming of municipally-owned facilities.
“If something had been negotiated with a third party, council still has that caveat with any group including the GrizzlysÖand I would suspect they would have similar expectations on reputation and the name on the facility,” Wagstaff said.
The group also pitched the idea of being able to use some of the current TV screens in the concourse for their own purposes and adding others in strategic locations.
“These screens are a great way to help local businesses get their message out to the community and allows the users to generate extra revenue,” Bagshaw said.
The Grizzlys’ sales team would actively sell the advertising.
He suggested a similar split in revenue to what was proposed for the naming rights, with a third going to other facility users.
Screens currently used to inform teams of what dressing rooms they are in, would likely stay as is under the proposal, said Bagshaw.
Using a digital signage network service, other screens could be displaying advertising or team-based content. Additional screens could be put up in strategic locations such as over the concession, he said.
The policies and priorities committee accepted the presentation for information.