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Customers arrive at the Canadian Tire store in North Vancouver. (ANDY CLARK/REUTERS)
Customers arrive at the Canadian Tire store in North Vancouver. (ANDY CLARK/REUTERS)

Canadian Tire puts its name on Ottawa Senators’ arena Add to ...

Canadian Tire Corp. Ltd. is making another play for the sports lover, taking over naming rights for the Ottawa Senators’ home arena.

The 19,153-seat arena in suburban Kanata, Ont., has been known as Scotiabank Place since 2006, when Bank of Nova Scotia took over naming rights from Corel Corp. in a 15-year, $20-million deal. That deal has now been cut short, as the Senators exercised their opt-out clause a couple of months ago. The arena will now be known as the Canadian Tire Centre, effective July 1.

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It is one more step in Canadian Tire’s strategy to cement its association with sports – and to strengthen its brand image as “Canada’s store.” In January, it announced a raft of sports sponsorship deals, becoming a national partner of the Canadian Olympic Committee and partnering with other organizations including Hockey Canada. The company will soon be announcing sponsorships with more than 14 Olympians and Paralympians.

While sporting goods have long been part of Canadian Tire’s core business, it has been investing more heavily in recent years: It acquired Sport Chek parent company Forzani Group Ltd. for $771-million in 2011, and last year, Forzani announced plans to buy Pro Hockey Life Sporting Goods Inc. for $85-millon.

The new arena deal will be used to promote more than just the flagship brand.

One restaurant in the facility will be renamed the Sport Chek Sports Pub and Grill. All 800 of the arena’s staff members will be outfitted in clothing from Mark’s Work Wearhouse (a Canadian Tire subsidiary), and will help promote that chain’s major brand refresh, coming this fall. The parking lot will be used as an advertising venue for Canadian Tire’s automotive business, including promotional offers printed on the back of parking stubs. The 10,000-square-foot kitchen that supplies the arena’s restaurants will be renamed the Canadian Tire Kitchen, and will be the setting of online videos and commercials to promote the retailer’s housewares. Its rink boards will include advertising for store brands such as Mastercraft and Denver Hayes.

“This is really going to advance our thinking on how to activate the whole family of companies,” said Duncan Fulton, chief marketing officer of FGL Sports and Mark’s, and senior vice-president of communications and corporate affairs for Canadian Tire.

The deal also gives the retailer naming rights and advertising time during games broadcasts, which will now be called Canadian Tire Ottawa Senators on Sportsnet, broadcast in most of Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. Players who do interviews between periods will have towels around their necks with the Sport Chek brand on them.

The span of the agreement is far broader than typical naming-rights deals in the past, and is indicative of marketers’ changing demands when it comes to sponsorships.

“There’s been a shift coming for a number of years now, and it’s intensifying. They’re not just branding any more with teams.… Marketers want more from their dollar that they’re investing with teams,” said Cyril Leeder, president of Senators Sports & Entertainment.

The signage will be changed in time for the 2013-2014 season. The deal’s first term will span eight years, and has an “evergreen clause” allowing for it to be amended and renewed every 10 years after that. Financial terms were not disclosed.

While it seems a natural fit, NHL arenas do not often carry the names of sports-related businesses. Financial institutions and telecommunications companies more typically have the marketing budgets needed for this kind of investment.

On Tuesday, Bank of Nova Scotia announced it would continue to be a team sponsor of the Senators, and that it would reallocate its marketing dollars to expand its community hockey sponsorships in the Ottawa region.

“Our commitment to hockey goes well beyond the naming of buildings,” said Scotiabank chief marketing officer Duncan Hannay.

Follow on Twitter: @susinsky

 
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