Veiner’s daugh­ter re­spect­fully dis­agrees with selling build­ing’s nam­ing rights

Medicine Hat News - - FRONT PAGE - COLLIN GAL­LANT cgal­lant@medicine­hat­news.com Twit­ter: CollinGal­lant

The daugh­ter of Harry Veiner says selling cor­po­rate nam­ing rights to the soon-tobe re­built se­niors’ cen­tre bear­ing her fa­ther’s name would be “dis­ap­point­ing.”

Shirley Fit­ter­man told the News that re­cent mus­ing by a city coun­cil­lor doesn’t fit with her idea of pre­serv­ing her­itage, but un­der­stands why it might be at­trac­tive.

“It would be dis­ap­point­ing; that’s one part of his legacy that we thought would last,” said Fit­ter­man, who lives in Van­cou­ver but does travel back to visit.

Veiner, the long­time mayor and lo­cal busi­ness­man, do­nated the land for the cen­tre and helped push for the project in the mid- 1970s.

Fit­ter­man said after so many years there are fewer and fewer peo­ple who re­mem­ber those times.

“He was very im­por­tant to the city at a cer­tain time, and I would be against it. I would not be pleased but it’s out of my hands. It’s re­ally what the city de­cides is best for the city.”

Coun. Brian Varga pro­posed the idea at a com­mit­tee meet­ing this week, sug­gest­ing a pol­icy to sell ad­ver­tis­ing and spon­sor­ships for city fa­cil­i­ties that could in­clude nam­ing rights.

Varga felt the Veiner Cen­tre, the Fam­ily Leisure Cen­tre and the Es­planade might be prime can­di­dates.

On Thurs­day, Varga said no of­fence was in­tended but feels nam­ing rights have been over­looked as a way to sub­si­dize op­er­a­tional costs.

“The ‘Veiner Cen­tre’ wouldn’t go away,” he said. “It would still be the Veiner Cen­tre, but putting a spon­sor’s name in front of it would help op­er­ate the build­ing.”

Varga said he had re­cently at­tended a na­tional sport tourism con­fer­ence where the topic was dis­cussed.

“Every­body is do­ing it all across North Amer­ica, and it’s a money gen­er­a­tor,” said Varga.

His fel­low com­mit­tee mem­bers said the move could bring in cash, though the prac­tice should be taste­ful and might not work well on some build­ings.

“I’d never con­sider re­nam­ing the Es­planade,” Coun. Robert Du­manowski said.

Staff said no plans are in the works but a pol­icy that will go be­fore coun­cil next week would lay down guide­lines of how ad­ver­tis­ers and donors could be ac­com­mo­dated.

Varga agreed with Coun. Jim Turner that the big­gest po­ten­tial might be in do­na­tions to spon­sor in­di­vid­ual meet­ing rooms.

Elaine Freed­man, who headed a $3mil­lion com­mu­nity fundrais­ing cam­paign to pay for Es­planade con­struc­tion, said most rooms at the arts cen­tre al­ready bear a donor’s name.

How­ever, she wouldn’t ob­ject to a cor­po­ra­tion plac­ing its name ahead of the “Es­planade,” or spe­cific to the main theatre.

“Those are re­ally the only things that are avail­able,” she said.

“The time to do it is when you are build­ing it, and that is eas­ier said than done.”

The Es­planade cam­paign spanned more than two years and in­volved dozens of Hat­ters and cor­po­ra­tions mak­ing siz­able do­na­tions.

In 2013, the city em­barked on a $10mil­lion cam­paign to­ward event cen­tre con­struc­tion, but beyond a large do­na­tion from Cy­press County, only $60,000 was raised from the gen­eral pub­lic.

Freed­man said that is a les­son city coun­cil should heed.

“Fundrais­ing is hard,” said Freed­man. “The two things peo­ple hate most is pub­lic speak­ing and fundrais­ing.”

The undis­closed deal be­tween Canalta Ho­tels and pri­vate man­age­ment com­pany SMG-Canada was an­nounced in 2015.

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