Arena’s name stays the same

PAUL TURENNE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:30 PM ET

Winnipeg's new NHL team made an announcement about a name Thursday, but it wasn't quite what the masses have been waiting on.

True North's downtown arena will continue to be called MTS Centre until at least 2021, when the telecommunications company will have the option to extend its naming rights for another 10 years.

The building was referred to as the True North Centre until MTS bought the original rights in December 2003 — prior to its opening — and has been known only as MTS Centre for its entire operating life.

"We're thrilled our name will continue to be synonymous with hockey excellence," MTS Allstream CEO Pierre Blouin said Thursday. "It's huge exposure in terms of brand and name across the country."

Neither side would divulge the financial details of the deal, although True North president Jim Ludlow said it's "absolutely" a multimillion-dollar deal that will "provide sustainability and long-term viability" for the fledgling NHL club.

Ludlow said the deal's value will set a new benchmark for mid-market NHL naming rights agreements.

Most NHL teams now offer up arena naming rights for between $1.5 million and $3 million per year.

Quebecor, the Winnipeg's Sun's owner, recently bought the naming rights to Quebec City's yet-to-be-built arena, and will pay $1.3 million for 25 years if the city scores no NHL team, and $2.5 million a year for 25 years if it does.

Meanwhile, Ludlow said the other name Winnipeg fans are waiting on, the team name, won't be announced before next week's NHL board of governors meeting, and is "unlikely" to come before next weekend's rookie draft.

"There's a lot of work being done on the name right now. It's a matter of balancing competing interests and coming to the right decision," Ludlow said.


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