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Historic deal results in Air Canada Centre name change

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (34) celebrates his goal with defenseman Jake Gardiner (51) during the second period of Game 5 in an NHL Stanley Cup hockey first-round playoff series against the Washington Capitals, Friday, April 21, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
AP Photo/Nick Wass

Naming rights for a sports venue can be quite lucrative, as will be the case for the Air Canada Centre. On Tuesday, it was reported that the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors will undergo a name change next July 1, with the Scotiabank Arena being its new name.

According to TSN, Scotiabank will pay Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment close to $800 million Canadian in the sponsorship deal, which will run for 20 years. The deal is considered to be the most lucrative naming rights deal in North American sports history. That’s a far cry from the deal the MLSE struck with Air Canada in 1999, as those rights paid out an average of $4 million per year.

“To be honest, it wasn’t that difficult to find interested suitors,” Doug Hopkinson, MLSE chief commercial officer said. “This is already firmly established as Canada’s premier entertainment venue…We felt we had a very good sense about what the market would bear and Scotia and ourselves have agreed on what that number should look like.”

According to SportsNet, the naming rights to both Citi Field (New York Mets) and Barclays Center (Brooklyn Nets) cost the respective companies $20 million per year. The reported agreement between Scotiabank and MLSE would double that figure.

Given its prior relationship with the once heralded Maple Leafs, Scotiabank was able to take advantage of provisions that allowed it to have priority in negotiations if and when naming rights to the arena became available. That status paid off in a big way for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Tuesday afternoon.

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