The town is planning to sell the naming rights for the new recreation centre.
That means the name Don Stewart Recreation Centre will likely be no more.
In fact, the town plans to sell naming rights for any significant part of the new facility – the pool, the arena, the curling rink, meeting rooms, dressing rooms and even the arena clock.
When the proposal was discussed at the March 27 meeting of council, it was the idea to change the name of the Don Stewart Recreation Centre that attracted the most attention.
Council agreed with a proposal from its fundraising advisory committee that a request for proposals (RFP) be issued seeking interest on naming the whole new facility.
The RFP is expected this month.
Coun. Steve Anderson asked if there was an existing agreement with the present sponsor for a term for the name Don Stewart Recreation Centre.
“There is no agreement and there was no set term,” said Judy Goucher, the town’s senior administrative officer (SAO).
Anderson then asked if the Stewart family is in favour of the town’s plans.
“I think there’s been some talk, but it’s a decision that’s got to come before council,” said Mayor Brad Mapes.
The mayor noted the RFP will give respondents the opportunity to propose how long a term they would like for naming rights.
“Ultimately, the town decides on what term they go with,” he said.
Mapes added there will also be future opportunities to name sections of the facility, such as the arena and the swimming pool.
“So the idea is that you would have the pool named one thing, the arena named one thing and the facility another,” he said.
Mapes noted the proposed term is 10 years for other aspects of the facility.
Coun. Keith Dohey said he was not in favour of changing the name of the Don Stewart Recreation Centre.
“I was personally outnumbered on the committee on changing the name,” he said. “I’m personally not a big fan, but it’s the direction we’re going. So we’ll see what comes back for interest and a decision will be made at the end of the day.”
Deputy mayor Donna Lee Jungkind noted more than five individuals have expressed interest in the naming rights for the new facility, and are waiting for the RFP.
“So it’s not just coming from the committee,” she said. “It’s also coming from people that have come and asked about the opportunities. That’s another reason why we are where we are.”
Mapes said whatever money raised in the sponsorship initiative will help pay for the new facility.
“It’s not uncommon to have proposals for naming centres like this anywhere in Canada,” he noted.
When contacted by The Hub later last week, Mapes noted the old facility was named the Don Stewart Recreation Centre in 2006 because the Stewart family donated $100,000 worth of cement from Igloo Building Supplies to help construct the swimming pool.
“It was a decision of council at the time,” he said of the name.
Mapes noted that other businesses, like Rowe’s Construction, gave fairly large reductions on their costs and were also recognized.
In fact, the swimming pool is technically Rowe’s Aquatic Centre, although that name is rarely used.
Mapes said that in coming weeks there will also be opportunities to name other sections inside the new centre.
“Everything will be renamed,” he said, noting that will include the Ben Sivertz Arena, the aquatic centre, the curling rink, the walking track, meeting rooms, the arena clock, and each dressing room.
“The thing that I want to be clear about is the Town of Hay River council they know the contributions that Don Stewart did for our community,” said Mapes.
The mayor noted the town has sent a letter to the Stewart family explaining what the plans are for naming the facility.
When contacted by The Hub, Joy Stewart, a daughter of Don Stewart, declined to comment on the town’s naming plans.
However, she sent a written statement to The Hub.
“Our family has been very honoured by the naming of the Don Stewart Recreation Centre after our father, in recognition of his many years of dedication to Hay River,” she wrote. “We know our Dad would have been so proud. He loved the people of Hay River and saw the importance of sports in our town and how it brings a community together. He always fought for the funds and found a way to make sports in the community a priority. It was his belief that a community that plays together, stays together.”