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Thursday, 13 September 2012

Naming the expanded Convention Centre

Convention Centre Ad

Since the of the expansion of the Convention Centre, someone has likely been tasked with being on the lookout for an entity willing to pay for the naming rights.

Winnipeg and its one-time facility management agency Winnipeg Enterprises had always shied away from naming public facilities, leaving us with the generic Winnipeg Auditorium, Winnipeg Stadium, Winnipeg Soccer Complex, Winnipeg Velodrome, Winnipeg Arena and Winnipeg Convention Centre.

June 1, 1972, Winnipeg Free Press
When construction of the Convention Centre was underway, the Tourism and Convention Association of Manitoba Inc. was in charge of promoting the venue and wanted something beyond "the new convention centre being built in Winnipeg" to work with. In May 1972 they submitted a short list to council: The Winnipeg Convention Centre; Manitoba Centre; Unicity Centre; Centrepoint Canada; and Matawaw Square (Matawaw is Cree for ‘river junction’.)

Suggestions such as Prairieopolis and Golden Boy Centennial Centre came from other sources.

June 22, 1972, Winnipeg Free Press
A straw-poll was taken at the following city council meeting and showed that 22 councillors favoured Winnipeg Convention Centre while 20 chose one of the other entries. On June 21, 1972 executive policy chose the name the Winnipeg Convention Centre.

Sadly, if and when the centre is named it will likely end up being the Pepsi Centre or Budweiser Place maybe CanadInns Centre - not something more creative (and less corporate).

For more history of the Winnipeg Convention Centre.


Winnipeg Stadium

As for another Winnipeg facility, the Winnipeg Stadium had a push to change its name after the death of
Sydney Halter in 1990. He was the Winnipegger credited as the driving force behind uniting Canada's football leagues into one CFL and was elected its first commissioner at the league's founding meeting at the Royal Alex Hotel at Higgins and Main.

One of the proponents of a Halter Memorial Stadium was CFL commissioner Donald Crump. Enterprises responded to him, and others, in writing:

"Any previous discussion about naming such facilities after individuals has ended up in a recognition that perhaps we would be unable to properly recognize all of the proper individuals by doing so."
December 1, 1990 Winnipeg Free Press

In 2001, of course, the lure of cash changed all that. When the Bombers and Winnipeg Enterprises negotiated a new decade-long lease agreement, the Bombers insisted on a clause that would allow them to name the Stadium. Later that year it was rechristened CanadInns Stadium after a ten-year deal (estimated at $2 m) was reached with the hotelier.

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