Senators game for bank name change

BRUCE GARRIOCH and GEOFF MATTHEWS -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:13 AM ET

The Corel Centre is expected to officially get a new name today.

The Senators have called a 10 a.m. news conference where it's believed the club will announce the naming rights of the building have been sold to Scotiabank in a deal that could be in excess of $20 million for owner Eugene Melnyk.

While league sources weren't sure what the building will be called, Scotia Place is believed to be the leading contender.

But, Scotia Arena and Scotia Centre are also possibilities for 19,153-seat building.

The Sun first reported this deal was close last summer, but negotiations still had to take place with Corel Corp., which has owned the rights to the name for the last 10 years.

"I would decline to confirm or deny the story, but Scotiabank is always interested in looking at sponsorship opportunities in support of communities where we have customers and employees," said Frank Switzer, director of public affairs for Scotiabank in an e-mail last night.

Sources say Melnyk has close ties with officials from Scotiabank, but Direct Energy and MBNA Canada (recently bought by Citibank) also made a pitch to purchase the rights, however, neither was believed to have serious interest.

The Senators refused comment, but confirmed their new "business partner" will be on hand.

AGREEMENT ENDS

"It's of great significance to us and our business partner," said Senators VP of communications Phil Legault.

While Corel signed a 20-year agreement to take over the name of Ottawa Palladium in 1996 with a $26 million deal, it's believed the company -- which has experienced downsizing and a complete restructuring -- has been looking to dump the name for the last couple of years.

The building won't be the first in the NHL sponsored by a bank, but will be the first in Canada.

RBC bought the rights to the building in Raleigh, N.C., and the FleetCenter in Boston has been named the TD Banknorth Garden.

Though Melnyk has indicated he's going to lose money this year unless the Senators go deep into the playoffs, this deal is expected to help his bottom line. Scotiabank has already taken over sponsorship of the main floor restaurant and lounge.

"They have been putting hundreds of thousands of dollars into sponsorships," said a local banker. "This would just be the clincher of the deal. It all fits."


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