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Woolwich goes in-house with arena advertising

Both the township and sports groups stand to make more money under a revised arena advertising plan approved this week. Sales will be done in-house, axing the idea of a third party selling ad space at the arenas, an option councillors shot down last month as inadequate.

Instead, Woolwich staff will sell advertising on the rink boards at the three arenas. An affiliate program will provide a 50-50 split of revenues with community groups that sell space, proposed at $1,300 a year for each of the 10 spots in the Snyder and McLeod arenas at the Woolwich Memorial Centre and $700 per year at the Woolwich Township Arena in St. Jacobs.

The most recent arrangement for rink board advertising at the St. Jacobs arena and the former Elmira arena – handled by a third party, with the township getting 80 per cent – saw customers charged $500 per year.
Jennifer Horndl, business development manager at the WMC, told councillors meeting June 1 that the township already has eight or 10 leads.

That prompted Coun. Mark Bauman to quip those sales alone would provide Woolwich with more revenue than the third-party proposals council dismissed a month ago.

Of the three proposals received, the bid from Brideau Management Group (BMG) of Waterloo was deemed the best, but it would have only paid the township 15 per cent of gross sales, amounting to about $7,200 in 2010.

Councillors were unimpressed, however, arguing the arrangement would provide the township with only paltry sums, not even meeting staff’s low-ball budget amount of $15,000.

Worse yet, under the deal, if a user group such as the Elmira Sugar Kings or Woolwich Minor Hockey helped sell an ad, it would get the 15 per cent cut, leaving the township with nothing.

In taking the operation in-house, Woolwich will make the full amount of anything it sells, with the option of sharing more money with affiliated users – mostly minor sports organizations – if those groups help sell advertising, noted director of recreation and facilities Larry Devitt.

While the Junior B hockey team isn’t officially an affiliated group, they will be invited to participate.
“We’ll certainly make the opportunity available to them,” said Devitt, adding the program applies to a wider group than just those using the arenas. “I’m hoping that some of the groups take us up on it.”

For the in-house option, the staff report notes only rink board advertising and spots on the VenueVision video screen in the lobby at the WMC will be sold. The third-party proposals covered a broader scope, including space on the ice resurfacers and scoreboards, for instance.

In looking at ad the rates, councillors debated whether the same fee should apply to both the Dan Snyder and Jim McLeod arenas, with Coun. Sandy Shantz suggesting the greater seating capacity in the former warrants either a higher rate, or a lower one for the McLeod rink.

“It seems like they’re should be a difference because of the exposure,” she said.

But Bauman argued supply and demand will ultimately dictate any differential in the rates.

In a related issue, Devitt told councillors seating would be installed at the McLeod arena this year.

“There will be bleachers before the next ice season,” he said, adding heaters are not part of the 2010 budget.

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