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Arena advertising sales proposal proves a hard sell

Woolwich councillors have shot down a proposal for raising advertising revenue at township arenas, calling it inadequate.

The deal would have seen the municipality get only 15 per cent of the money advertisers pay for plastering their messages on rink boards or the ice resurfacer, for instance.

The bid from Brideau Management Group (BMG) of Waterloo was deemed the best of the three received in response to the township’s request for proposals to handle advertising at the Woolwich Memorial Centre and the arena in St. Jacobs. But while staff recommended the deal, councillors unanimously panned it as a bad idea.

“There’s something wrong with that business decision,” said Coun. Ruby Weber at Tuesday’s council meeting, where the bids were discussed. “I don’t like it. I don’t think it makes any business sense at all.”
BMG’s proposal would see the company sell, design and produce the advertising that would be installed at various spots around the arenas.

The company recommended advertising rates that included $1,750 for a rink-board panel at the Dan Snyder or Jim McLeod arenas at the WMC, or $700 at the Woolwich Township Arena. Advertising on the scoreclock at the Dan Snyder Memorial Arena would cost $1,500, while ad space on the ice resurfacer would set someone back $2,800 at the WMC and $1,800 in St. Jacobs. An in-ice logo would run $1,600.

Fifteen per cent of the selling cost would be turned over to the township. Alternatively, if a user group such as the Elmira Sugar Kings or Woolwich Minor Hockey provided a lead to a customer, the 15 per cent would go to that group. The contract would run for five years.

Director of recreation and facilities Larry Devitt said the deal was similar to what BMG gets at other arenas in the region.

Councillors were having none of it, however, arguing the arrangement would provide the township with only paltry sums, estimated at $7,200 in 2010 – staff had low-balled a budget amount of $15,000.
Noting that $7,200 to the township would mean a gross of some $42,000 for BMG, Coun. Mark Bauman said the company would come out way ahead.

To cap it off, he added, if user groups help sell the boards, being motivated to raise money, “the township could end up with nothing.”

As well as the low payback – “Fifteen per cent seems pretty light” – Coun. Sandy Shantz expressed concerns the Waterloo-based company would draw on its existing client base rather than stressing advertising opportunities for local firms.

“I’d like to see it advertising our community, not Kitchener and Waterloo,” she said, noting people here would be upset if the advertising stressed other businesses over those in Woolwich.

Councillors directed Devitt to come up with a better alternative, perhaps using in-house resources to maximize the returns.

“I think we can do better,” said Bauman.

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