By Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network
There are three new names in the Blue Jays attempts to sell Rogers Centre naming rights: TD Bank, RBC and Ron Shapiro.
_ The Toronto-Dominion Bank has naming rights to the TD Garden, home of the Boston Bruins and the Boston Celtics; TD Place, home of the Ottawa Redblacks, Ottawa 67’s and Ottawa Fury FC as well as the oh so comfortable TD Comfort Zone at the Rogers Centre.
_ The Royal Bank of Canada owns naming rights to the Winnipeg Convention Centre and used to own the rights to the Carolina Hurricanes home in Raleigh, N.C. Formerly known as the RBC Center, the Hurricanes home is now known as the PNC Arena, as requested by Pittsburgh-based PNC Bank.
_ Ron Shapiro, father of Blue Jays president, Mark Shapiro, is helping the Blue Jays negotiate the deal. Ron Shapiro represented former Montreal Expos RHP Dennis Martinez as well as Hall of Famers like SS Cal Ripken, RHP Jim Palmer, 3B Brooks Robinson, 1B Eddie Murray and OF Kirby Puckett. He also looks after Minnesota Twins Joe Mauer.
Mark Shapiro is pulling all the levers to bring as much money into the Rogers Centre, or whatever it will be called, is getting help from a sharp negotiator in his father.
Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment caught the attention of every sports executive when naming rights were sold to Scotiabank on a 20-year agreement worth $800 million. The deal begins next July.
There is a six-man governance committee trying to decide on which is the better offer Mark Ditmar, vice-president of Blue Jays corporate partnerships, brings to the table.
The committee consists of Edward Rogers, recently named chair of the board at Rogers Communications and chairman of the Blue Jays; his good friend Roger Rai, a Rogers consultant; Tony Staffieri, chief financial officer; Joe Natale. President & CEO at Rogers Communications; Andrew Miller, Blue Jays executive vice president of business operations, and Mark Shapiro.
One thing will change for the Blue Jays accounting department once the naming rights are sold.
Since the former SkyDome is known as the Rogers Centre -- named after the late Ted Rogers, Edward’s father, the broadcasting pioneer -- the ball club gets a tax break. It won’t get a break from Revenue Canada once the naming rights are sold.
Why are so many banks across North America into the naming business? Well, part advertising and part data collecting so they can approach new customers.