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Scotiabank sets new benchmark with arena naming-rights deal

Canada-based banking group Scotiabank has acquired naming rights to the Air Canada Centre, home of NBA basketball franchise the Toronto Raptors and NHL ice hockey team the Toronto Maple Leafs, as part of a lucrative 20-year deal.

The deal comes into effect in July 2018 and officially renames the venue as the Scotiabank Arena. The agreement was signed by Scotiabank and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, which operates the arena and its two major tenants.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but is widely reported to be worth about C$800m (€534m/$639m) over a 20-year period. Canadian sports broadcaster TSN said such a figure would place the deal as the highest-priced annual venue and team sponsorship in the history of North American sports.

MLSE’s previous agreement with Air Canada, signed in 1999, is said to be worth around C$4m per year. MLSE said Air Canada will continue to be associated with the Maple Leafs and Raptors by serving as the teams’ official airline partner in a long-term deal.

The strategic partnership between Scotiabank and MLSE also includes philanthropic opportunities with the MLSE Foundation, and a digital collaboration between MLSE and the Scotiabank Digital Factory.

Scotiabank president and chief executive Brian Porter said: “We have always sought new and innovative partnerships with the goal of building strong and enduring communities. Today’s announcement is an extension of Scotiabank’s unwavering love of sports and our commitment to help young people reach their full potential. We believe that MLSE is an ideal partner for Scotiabank to reach our objectives.”

Air Canada took on naming rights to the venue when it opened in 1999. The arena, which holds 19,800 fans during basketball games and 18,800 for ice hockey fixtures, has also staged a number of high-profile music concerts since opening.

David Hopkinson, MLSE’s chief commercial officer, told TSN that he received serious offers for the naming rights from eight companies. “To be honest, it wasn’t that difficult to find interested suitors,” Hopkinson said. 

“This is already firmly established as Canada’s premier entertainment venue… We felt we had a very good sense about what the market would bear and Scotia and ourselves have agreed on what that number should look like.”

Scotiabank also sponsors the Scotiabank Saddledome, home to NHL team the Calgary Flames.