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Sault puts out another cattle call for arena naming rights
Essar Centre
Essar Centre, Sault Ste. Marie

The City of Sault Ste. Marie is still trolling to sell the naming rights for its downtown arena, the Essar Centre.

With the local steelmaker, Essar Steel Algoma, restructuring under bankruptcy protection, the municipality began accepting proposals in January from interested parties with the deadline of February 23.

Now they’re announcing they’re re-issuing the request for proposal (RFP) with a deadline to receive applications until May 4. City council instructed staff last September to put out the RFP to land a new corporate sponsor for the city-owned facility.

The Essar Centre is the city’s main 5,000-seat downtown arena. An Ontario Hockey League team is the main tenant.

“Re-issuing the RFP provides additional time for interested parties to finalize their submission and help ensure we have the best offer for this venue,” said Tom Vair, deputy CAO of Community Development and Enterprise Services.

“We look forward to selecting a proponent and creating a valuable, positive association with the City of Sault Ste. Marie through marketing, advertising, hospitality, website and promotional opportunities.”

There is one catch, though.

The City of Sault Ste. Marie requires the proposed name include the words, “Memorial Gardens.”

The arena was built on the same site as the former Memorial Gardens and opened in 2006 under the banner of the Steelback Centre, named after the now-defunct Steelback Brewery. But the Tiverton brewer defaulted on payments on its 10-year, 1.35-million agreement and filed for bankruptcy in November 2007.

Essar Steel Algoma, since rebranded as Algoma, landed the naming rights in 2008 but it too has become financially insolvent.

The $1.5 million sponsorship with Essar was for a 10-year agreement that was fully paid in advance. The agreement runs out July 31.

The city said the successful proponent will receive benefits including a suite lease with the facility, season tickets, centre ice logo, rink board advertisements, video board announcements, illuminated suite sign, and other signage within the facility.