RBC invests in Sting's revitalization

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:49 AM ET

SARNIA -- The Sarnia Sports and Entertainment Centre is a no-name beehive no more.

The arena complex housing the OHL's Sarnia Sting was re-christened the RBC Centre before last night's home game with the rival London Knights.

The five-year deal between the Sting and the Royal Bank ends a decade-long search to secure naming rights for the building. Financial terms were not disclosed and RBC has first option on an additional five years after the contract runs out in 2014.

Nickname? Maybe The Vault. Perhaps The Bank. There's plenty of time to invest in the best moniker.

The Ciccarelli family, which owns the Sting and operates the rink, and the City of Sarnia finally got a brand for the building after a handful of near-misses.

"We've been close before -- we've had a long-standing partnership with RBC for several years and this is an extension of that strong relationship," said new Sting president Larry Ciccarelli.

RBC Lambton/Kent vice- president Brian Henderson said the Ciccarellis approached the bank this summer.

"Despite the economy, we feel it's important to invest in community initiatives like this," Henderson said. "We're very supportive of the Sting's brick-by-brick campaign (of organizational and community renewal) and we're eager to reach our common goals of making this a first-class facility and franchise."

It's the latest move for the Ciccarellis in the rebuilding and revitalization of their franchise. They have a burning desire to succeed and create the same winning tradition Dale and Mark Hunter have enjoyed in London.

The Sting hired Bill Abercrombie and Greg Burr from the Sarnia Legionnaires junior B team this year to help reinforce bonds in the community. They revamped their scouting staff.

"(Brother) Rob and I had been a little more passive in the past with respect to the operation of the hockey club but now we're committed to more active involvement," Larry Ciccarelli said. "And when I say that, we're not going to interfere. We're going to let people do their jobs but we're going to hold them accountable. We feel we're heading in the right direction. We brought in Jim Debenham to run our scouting staff, who comes over from Plymouth where they never miss the playoffs."

The RBC Centre, when it was built for $15.9 million 10 years ago, was one of the first of a wave of new OHL arenas. Money from the naming rights will go back into rink maintenance.

The NHL's Carolina Hurricanes also play at the RBC Center, but the facilities are linked in company sponsorship only.

But here's one interesting link to the on-ice Sting: Terry Neuber, vice-president of RBC Dominion Securities, was on hand for the announcement. His son Kyle, a 20-year-old tough guy who played for Mississauga last year, made his Sting debut last night.


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