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Keystone presses on after failing to attract naming rights bids

A new sign and digital display for Westman Place is installed at the entrance to the Keystone Centre grounds on 18th Street last year.

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A new sign and digital display for Westman Place is installed at the entrance to the Keystone Centre grounds on 18th Street last year. (TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN)

The deadline for Keystone Centre naming proposals came and went this week, and unfortunately the facility did not receive any written submissions.

General manager Neil Thomson said while they are disappointed, they remain optimistic about potential partnerships.

"We are actually having quite a number of discussions with potential … naming right partners," he said, adding the May 14 deadline may have been too hopeful.

Thomson said they realize businesses would need to work a proposal like this into their budgets, which would take some time.

"It would have been great to have a bunch of written proposals but conversations and discussions are still going on," he said.

Late last month, the Keystone announced it would consider the sale of new naming rights for certain rooms. Up for new names are the Kinsmen and Optimist arenas, the convention hall, the Canada Room and the amphitheatre. A special reception for Westman-area businesses was held to introduce them to the sponsorship program.

"We had sent out quite a number of packages to regional and national companies, and so those ones do take a little bit longer as well," Thomson said. "Bigger organizations take potentially a bit of time to flow through the right channels."

The next step will be to follow up with the organizations that attended the reception as well as those companies the Keystone sent sponsorship packages to.

Previously, the Keystone had already sold naming rights to its main arena — now Westman Communications Group Place — and to its agricultural centre — now the Westoba Credit Union Agricultural Centre of Excellence.

Thomson said the previous general manager had spoken with the Kinsmen and Optimist groups about potentially changing the names of the arenas.

"They were OK with the Keystone approaching the marketplace for funding," he said.

The new sponsorships are expected to help defray some of the centre’s funding needs.

"We’re looking at any and all revenue sources," Thomson said. "We attempt to do a variety of things, we’ve gone back into the concert business, we are now doing the kitchen and banquets ourselves, we’ve got the campground raising revenue for us as well."

Thomson said they will be applying for various grants through Canadian foundations, approaching smaller businesses for sponsorship items — anything they can do to generate additional revenue.

"Our main goal for the facility is attempting to break even," he said. "We’ve been able to do that in the last two fiscal years, but it’s a challenge every year."

Just because the Keystone hosts an event one year, doesn’t mean it will be back again the following year.

"You start new every year, and so we’re hoping with the combination of attracting new concerts and new events, together with things like naming rights and grant applications, that we’ll continue to strive to break even," Thomson said.

The estimated cost of naming rights for the Keystone venues range from $10,000 to $25,000.

» jaustin@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @jillianaustin

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 16, 2014

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