Big bucks for stadium names may not generate cash flow, but it boosts branding: expert

If you’re a Canadian sports fanatic, you’ve probably heard of the Rogers Centre and Scotiabank Arena. They’re hard to miss, with their names plastered in bright lights and mentioned on national broadcasts. 

But does seeing Auston Matthews score a record-setting number of goals in Scotiabank Arena make you more likely to switch banks?

Brands pay big bucks to have the right to name a stadium or arena. The Bank of Nova Scotia’s deal for the naming rights to Scotiabank Arena is worth a reported $800 million, and BCE Inc. paid $100 million for a 20-year deal to put its name on the Bell Centre in Montreal. 

“When you think about Scotiabank Arena, it is not a Toronto venue. It’s one of the most iconic venues in all of North America,” said Laura Curtis Ferrera, Scotiabank’s chief marketing officer.

“It’s one of the most tagged locations in Canada on social media. And it’s been the backdrop to some of the city’s most historical moments, including the Raptors winning the NBA championship … It’s immeasurable in terms of value.”

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Scotiabank has the rights to stadiums across Canada, including the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, all the way to the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax.

The Scotiabank Saddledome is part of a network of arenas with the banks name on them. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

Curtis Ferrera said the bank’s internal research shows those partnerships are paying off. 

“When Canadians are familiar with our sponsorship, they are three times more likely to consider Scotiabank as their primary bank, and they are three times more likely to refer us to others,” said Curtis Ferrera. 

But according to a study published in the Journal of Sports Economics, there actually isn’t a direct relation between a building name and turning a profit. 

The study looked at company share prices before and after naming deals and found it didn’t provide an economic benefit. 

But John Fortunato, a professor in communications and media management at Fordham University in New York, says it’s not all about the direct advertising dollars.

Building up a new brand

Fortunato said a naming deal can be a big boon for companies that are trying to get their name or product out there.

“You get tremendous brand awareness, right? I mean, there’s just an exposure to millions of people in one simple way [and] you’re not going to get that in any other format,” Fortunato told Cost of Living host Paul Haavardsrud.

He uses the example of the…

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