If B.C. Pavilion Corporation tries again to sell B.C. Place Stadium’s name to a corporate sponsor, it must consult the Vancouver Whitecaps.
So says part of a contract between the Crown corporation and the Major League Soccer franchise obtained by theBreaker under freedom of information.
Before the 2017 provincial election campaign formally began in April, PavCo released a version of the contract that was almost entirely blacked out. On Sept. 29, it sent a version to theBreaker that reveals most clauses, but still hides dollar amounts and key terms. theBreaker’s appeal to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner seeking full disclosure remains. An inquiry is imminent.
“We have further discussed the matter with the third party, and the revised redaction is made possible at this time by our progress in developing a complementary agreement with our other BC Place licensee,” says the cover letter from PavCo.
That licensee is not named, but the only other anchor tenant of the taxpayer-owned stadium is the B.C. Lions, whose 2011 contract was made public in 2015. A four-year legal battle with PavCo culminated in an OIPC adjudicator ruling that the contract could not be kept secret.
Whitecaps and PavCo originally made a March 10, 2011 rent contract, before the club’s debut MLS season that began at the temporpary Empire Field and ended at the reopened B.C. Place. The Nov. 4, 2016-signed Whitecaps Sponsorship Addendum Agreement says that the club wished “to obtain consent and agreement of [PavCo] for advertising and sponsorship activations in or on the stadium property outside of the inner bowl.”
The parties reached agreement on a variety of issues, including the “clean condition of delivery and return of the stadium and plaza areas on game days.”
By clean, the agreement means areas without sponsorship logos and signage. On game days, the Whitecaps plaster Bell logos around the stadium and on Terry Fox Plaza. Bell remains the sponsor of player jerseys and the club still refers to the field at B.C. Place as “Bell Pitch.”
The contract includes clauses about the number of ads on the Terry Fox Plaza outdoor screen and rules for when and where the Whitecaps can offer free samples of food and drink to fans on game days, while not conflicting with B.C. Place’s roster of sponsors and suppliers.
The new contract contemplates the potential for renaming B.C. Place. It was supposed to become Telus Park after the $514 million, 2011 renovation.
“[PavCo] commits to engaging in naming rights discussions in a collaborative and integrated manner with the licensee,” says the agreement. “If and when [PavCo] is authorized to commence the process of selecting a name sponsor, [PavCo] will provide written notice to the licensee and the parties will thereafter use good faith efforts to agree upon a collaborative, integrated and mutually beneficial process.”
Telus had a 20-year, $40 million naming rights deal that then-Premier Christy Clark and her cabinet scuttled in 2012.
Clark is a close friend of Whitecaps’ media-shy owner Greg Kerfoot, an $80,000 BC Liberal donor. Bell was one of the unsuccessful bidders for government telecommunications contracts that threatened legal action over the sudden no-bid, omnibus deal announced with Telus in June 2011. The Vancouver-based company, which sponsors the B.C. Lions, made one, big 10-year, $1 billion deal across the government after more than two years of open bidding on nine smaller contracts.
The agreement says that PavCo and the Whitecaps will meet annually, on or before Oct. 1, and states that the Whitecaps would pay additional fees at the same time as paying for their level 3 suite. The amount of those fees is censored, so we have no way of knowing whether PavCo is charging as little as $1. The per ticket facility fee that PavCo charges rose to $3.25 and a clause stipulates that there will be a comprehensive review of the levy during 2021.
The name of an arbitrator was censored from the contract. All that can be discrerned is that she is from Kamloops,
Did the Whitecaps get a better deal than the Lions? Be the judge.
“[PavCo] confirms to the licensee that it has not granted to any other anchor tenant substantially similar rights and privileges to those granted to the licensee in this sponsorship addendum.”
The Whitecaps begin their 2017 MLS Cup playoff campaign Oct. 25 when they host the San Jose Earthquakes at B.C. Place.