Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Call It "The Cooler"?

This building, until today, was known as the Ricoh Coliseum. It has seen its tenant in the Toronto Marlies do some pretty amazing things including winning the AHL's Calder Cup this past season. While Ricoh held the naming rights for the last fifteen years, times have changed in Toronto and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment was looking to capitalize on the market rates. In saying that, Ricoh is out and the big-spending Coca-Cola brand will take over the marquee outside the rink as the building becomes the Coca-Cola Coliseum.

The Ricoh deal made a decade-and-a-half ago actually seems like a great deal when you consider the dollar value of the deal. Reports pegged the deal at $10-million for the naming rights of the building for ten years, with a five-year option. That option was exercised and Ricoh remained as the corporate name on the building. When the deal was signed the Toronto Roadrunners called Ricoh home, and they were the affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers. Over the next fifteen years, things changed dramatically in today's sports scene. Fast forward to today, and that dollar figure simply doesn't add up after the Toronto Marlies have become one of the premiere teams in the AHL.

The new deal signed today between Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment and Coca-Cola is also a ten-year deal, but figures on how much Coca-Cola spent to get their name on the building were not disclosed. One major part of the deal sees Coca-Cola donate a private suite to non-profit organizations for every Marlies home game in the 2018-2019 season. A second commitment from Coca-Cola will see them hold several public community skating events as well.

"The Coliseum has been a focal point of the community, serving as host to world-class sporting events and generation-defining musical acts since it was built in 1922," said Michael Samoszewski, Vice President of Marketing for Coca-Cola Ltd. "We're excited and honoured to play a part in the history of this fantastic venue and build on its incredible legacy by engaging with our neighbours in new and meaningful ways."

Marketing speak aside, I think these commitments from Coca-Cola are pretty cool considering that most naming rights deals don't go into the depth that this one does. Coca-Cola is a worldwide brand, though, so it's not like they need the exposure that this naming rights deal brings, and the fact that they're willing to do more for the fans of the Marlies and community groups speaks more about their corporate culture than their branding.

But let's make one thing clear here: Coca-Cola products will now be exclusively served at Coca-Cola Coliseum, so it's not like Coke is losing in this deal. Whatever the cost of putting Cocal-Cola brands into the previously-named Ricoh Coliseum probably came in at some value that made buying the naming rights more attractive, so now Coca-Cola gets the branding inside for its beverages, the branding outside for its corporate name, and the partnership with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment that could see them move into other venues as well.

In any case, the Coca-Cola Coliseum will be the new era of this building for the next decade or more, and I'm pretty sure that there will be more victories for the Marlies playing in The Cooler. Or the Icebox. Or whatever nickname will stick on the building with Coke's logo on the outside.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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