The following is an editorial published under my byline in The Kamloops Daily News on Aug. 8, 1996. History confirms my opinions on the matter did not prevail.
WHAT’S IN a name? Money, apparently.
The idea of renaming Riverside Coliseum after any sponsor willing to put up $100,000 a year has been broached to city council. While most councillors don’t seem to be taking it very seriously, some aren’t so sure it’s a bad idea.
The concept itself isn’t new except that in the past it was usually individual philanthropists opening up their money bags for the honor of having something named after them.
Mel Rothenburger for example, might decide to put up $10 million for a new art gallery. In appreciation for this largesse, the gallery’s board of directors would call it the Mel Rothenburger Gallery.
The only difference now is that soft-drink and auto manufacturers are having facilities named after their companies. Furthermore, corporate donations aren’t even new with Riverside Coliseum — they were an important part of the fund-raising for it.
So why not offer up the enticements of renaming Riverside Coliseum in return for a nice contribution toward the cost of operating it?
One different between it and, say, GM Place is that despite those corporate fund-raising donations, by far the biggest part of the coliseum’s $23-million price tag was paid for by taxpayers, in the form of local and provincial taxes, a special downtown-area levy and a fund-raising campaign.
Corporate contributions toward public facilities are important and welcome but if a corporation wants to slap its name on a hockey rink, it should have to pay the capital cost of construction.
In the case of Riverside Coliseum, taxpayers got to pick the name because they paid for it. There was actually quite a controversy over what to call it. For a long while, it was known simply as “the multiplex,” but when it came down to giving it an official handle, it proved a touchy issue.
In the spring of 1991, city council looked through hundreds of entries and picked Riverside Coliseum. It’s a good name. Everybody likes it. We taxpayers picked it; we should keep it.
If corporate donors want recognition, we suggest they harken back to an editorial we wrote In part it said: “Assistance from industry is becoming a virtual necessity for many public projects precisely because of tightening government purse strings.”
“Corporate donations . . . could be just what’s needed to make the multiplex a reality. Certainly, there’s usually a catch, namely in the way of permanent recognition of a company’s generosity. A sign or plaque, though, is a small price.”
Exactly, a sign or a plaque, not picking the name.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a former director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.