Air Canada Centre to become Scotiabank Arena in 2018

Controversial name change result of $800 million deal
The Air Canada Centre has retained its name since it opened in 1999. STEVEN LEE/THE VARSITY
The Air Canada Centre has retained its name since it opened in 1999. STEVEN LEE/THE VARSITY

The beloved home of the Toronto Raptors and the Maple Leafs is undergoing a controversial internal renovation in the form of a name change. On August 29, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) sold the naming rights to the arena, formerly known as the Air Canada Centre (ACC), to Scotiabank, which will change the name of the stadium to the Scotiabank Arena as of July 2018. The change is intended to last for 20 years. Although the final numbers of this deal remain unknown, a TSN source claims that Scotiabank will pay roughly $800 million under this deal.

The figures round out to about $40 million per season, which exponentially tops the previous deal between MLSE and Air Canada that sat at around $4 million per season. But local fans must know that Air Canada is not completely out of the picture. It will remain the airline that represents the Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs for the foreseeable future.

Scotiabank’s deal with MLSE costs roughly $25 million more than Staples’ deal to own the naming rights to the Staples Centre. The deal also overshadows the figure for the naming rights of Madison Square Garden, which was around $3 million.

How could an arena outside of the US foster one of the biggest naming rights deal in modern history?

“To be honest, it wasn’t that difficult to find interested suitors,” MLSE Chief Commercial Officer David Hopkinson told the Toronto Sun. “We felt we had a very good sense of what the market would bear.”

The name change is one of many that local attractions in Toronto have undergone. In previous years, the SkyDome was renamed to the Rogers Centre, the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre was renamed to the Budweiser Stage, and the Bloor Cinema was renamed to the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema.

The ACC and its history will forever be engrained in our hearts. Although the era of the Vince Carters, the Chris Boshs, and the Mats Sundins has ended, a new era for sports in Toronto is upon us. With MLSE franchises continuing to build and reach new peaks in their respective leagues, perhaps it’s fitting that this era begins under a new name.

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