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Arena name left on thin ice

Brent Helland teaches his son Carson, two, how to skate at the Habitat for Humanity family event hosted by Wesbild Communities Predator Ridge and Turtle Mountain Saturday at Wesbild Centre.  - Lisa VanderVelde/Morning Star
Brent Helland teaches his son Carson, two, how to skate at the Habitat for Humanity family event hosted by Wesbild Communities Predator Ridge and Turtle Mountain Saturday at Wesbild Centre.
— image credit: Lisa VanderVelde/Morning Star

Wesbild Centre could lose its name over an apparent lack of events.

Wesbild Holdings, a development company, says it will only consider renewing a naming contract if the Regional District of North Okanagan markets the 43rd Avenue multi-use facility more aggressively.

“Other than the Vipers, there’s not a lot of programs there. There needs to be value for the investment,” said Brad Pelletier, Wesbild vice-president.

“The value has to do with how the tenant (RDNO) uses the building. What’s the value of Rogers Arena if the Vancouver Canucks didn’t play there and they didn’t run concerts? It would just be a building with a name on it.”

In 2008, Wesbild Holdings, owner of the Predator Ridge and Turtle Mountain developments, agreed to pay $200,000 over the next five years for naming rights ($40,000 a year) for the multi-use facility.

The contract, which ends in early 2013, also called for an additional five-year option for $250,000.

“We are open to it. We are considering it,” said Pelletier, who confirms the regional district can also solicit other companies.

“If we invest in it, we want programs the citizens of Vernon desire. Wesbild did this (contract) with the best of intentions and to be a good corporate citizen.”

Jim Garlick, a Greater Vernon Advisory Committee director, is familiar with concerns about bookings at Wesbild Centre.

“It’s been a problem with the building,” he said.

“It was built on the premise of being an activity centre but it hasn’t turned out that way.”

Garlick says one of the challenges is Vernon is halfway between Kelowna and Kamloops and those larger cities are able to attract more concerts and other events.

“It’s hard to compete in that market.”

Penticton is a similar sized community and it draws a number of events, but Garlick believes there are historical factors at play.

“Penticton is set up for tourists in a huge way compared to us.”

But Garlick admits Wesbild Holdings’ concerns need to be considered.

“It’s something to look at — whether there can be better use of the facility,” he said, adding, though, that any revenue generated for naming rights must be balanced against the cost of marketing.

“There are other organizations that have shown an interest in the name. The main thing is to have facilities with options residents in the community want like skating or hockey.”

 

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