Oct 05, 2009 at 04:23 PM
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Alcatel-Lucent Library Anyone?

Markham, a fast growing town outside of Toronto, is a forward thinking community with a number of high-tech titans such as IBM, Motorola, Toshiba, Lucent, Sun Microsystems, Apple, and AMEX. Now, like many other communities, it appears ready to shore up city coffers through corporate sponsorship.

But not just through events.

What makes this story unique is the extent to which Markham may be ready to go when it comes to city naming rights and sponsorship. They've hired WAM, a Toronto-based marketing and sponsorship agency, to value naming rights to libraries, community centres and the city's museum. Markham has also outlined a plan to allow companies the opportunity to become "official sponsors" of the town itself.

Markham is hoping that WAM can bring the same sales acumen, albeit on a smaller scale, that allowed them to broker a $10 Million deal between the Sony and the Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto.

Under WAM's report to the city, Thornhill Village Library could net approximately $25,000 a year and the Milliken Mills Community Centre, $130,000. As for the town's "official designations" -- $350,000 a year per sponsor — from category exclusive sponsors in the automotive, business machines, consumer electronics, banks/credit cards, telecommunications and utilities sectors.

While some in town question the proposal and warn of unsavory sponsors, the town is evaluating next steps and ramifications of the plan.

In response to concern over giving up title to the Community Centre, "Mr. Wakeham said it’s possible to tack on a sponsor message (for example Markham Community Centre, Sponsored by Company X), but the town would get less money," according to a report on the issue at yorkregion.com

What do you think about municipalities selling official sponsorships? Should more cities take a look at the contracts their bidding out and treat them as potentially marketable assets through sponsorship?