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Volume 21 No. 2
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Tim Hortons finds right fit in hometown CFL naming-rights deal

Don Muret
The Tim Hortons naming-rights deal for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ new stadium was a natural fit between two brands with strong local ties.

But the 10-year agreement for Tim Hortons Field — the richest in CFL history, with an annual value thought to be in the low seven figures — was no sure thing, team officials involved in the negotiations said.

The late Tim Horton, a former NHL player, established the first location of his coffee and doughnut restaurant chain in Hamilton in 1964. Store No. 1 is two blocks from the site of old Ivor Wynne Stadium, the Tiger-Cats’ home for 84 years until it was demolished last year to make way for a new $146 million facility. (The team is playing home games this year at a local university stadium).

Cannon Design is the architect for Tim Hortons Field, set to open in Hamilton, Ontario, in 2014.
Over the past 49 years, Tim Hortons has grown to 4,300 stores across North America. In sports, its strongest presence is in the NHL, where it is a league partner and a sponsor of several teams. Tim Hortons also has deals with a few NFL teams and Big Ten schools.

On its way to becoming one of Canada’s most prominent consumer brands, though, Tim Hortons has passed on several opportunities to buy naming rights for CFL stadiums, said Matt Afinec, the Tiger-Cats’ senior vice president of new stadium development.

“Tim Hortons’ presence is far more pronounced in hockey than the CFL,” Afinec said. “This was a CEO-to-CEO sell. It took a whole lot of storytelling. If it was up to the traditional marketers, the deal might not have been done.”

Tugging on the heartstrings of a company whose roots lie in Hamilton did not hurt the team’s cause, but what closed the deal was project officials positioning the new 22,500-seat stadium as a community asset, said David Clanachan, Tim Hortons’ chief operating officer.

Tim Hortons Field will serve as the soccer venue for the 2015 Pan American Games. In addition, when the stadium opens in 2014, it will play host to more than 1,500 hours of youth sports annually.

“Children are our No. 1 target customer group,” Clanachan said. “This won’t be your typical pro sports stadium. It made a ton of sense.”

Premier PartnershipsJeff Marks consulted with the Tiger-Cats before the team went on its own and approached Tim Hortons.

The negotiations took about seven months from start to finish, Afinec said. The team’s sales pitch included a five-minute video presentation linking the Tim Hortons brand to the “Tiger Town” region surrounding Hamilton, an industrial city 45 miles southwest of Toronto.

“It was the perfect storm — they’re in our backyard, there was the community angle and the company is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2014,” Afinec said.

> PARK HERE: Monumental Sports and Entertainment has signed a sponsorship with Parking Panda tied to a new service that enables Verizon Center patrons to buy advance parking for arena events.

The Washington, D.C., arena has about 500 spaces on site, most of them reserved for premium-seat holders, said Dave Touhey, Verizon Center’s general manager.

The arena sits on top of a Metro subway station, and about 65 percent of Capitals and Wizards fans use public transportation to attend NHL and NBA games. The remaining 35 percent drive to those events, Touhey said.

To guarantee parking, patrons can buy a pass for one of 15 garages and lots near the arena through Parking Panda’s website or its mobile application.

Parking fees depend on the location and event, but in general they start at $10 and range up to $30 for valet parking for Caps and Wizards games, said Nick Miller, Parking Panda’s CEO. Last week, the vendor listed parking as low as $5 for a WNBA Mystics home game.

The firm signs deals with parking operators to reserve spots and patrons do not pay service charges on top of the primary fee, Miller said.

As Monumental Sports’ preferred parking provider, Parking Panda gets brand exposure on team and arena websites, as well as in-game messages on the arena scoreboard, concourse TVs and LED rings in the bowl.

Parking Panda has deals with parking operators next to other arenas and stadiums but this is its first agreement directly with a major league organization, Miller said.

Don Muret can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @breakground.