If you live or have lived in my hometown of Vancouver, you’ll no doubt know that the city’s largest and fanciest ice rink is a place that used to be called GM Place. The rink is the home of the local professional ice hockey team, the Vancouver Canucks. It’s also been the venue of many concerts including that Alanis Morissette gig I went to in 1996.
Now I mention it used to be called GM Place because on Tuesday, it was announced that Canadian communications empire Rogers had bought the naming rights to the facility for the next ten years. With all the creativity of a corporate machine, Rogers decided it wanted the venue to be called “Rogers Arena”. Though Rogers has cell phone services and video stores out here in British Columbia, it’s still seen as a company with an Eastern Canada bias. It also doesn’t help that Rogers also won the naming rights to the former Skydome in Toronto. It’s now called “Rogers Centre”. As you can see, there’s some similarity between “Rogers Arena” and “Rogers Centre”.
Here’s where I think some problems might arise. It’s no secret that people out West hold some disdain for those out in Toronto, which coincidentally is where Rogers is headquartered. So some Vancouverites might be a bit miffed that an Eastern Canadian company like Rogers came in and named the rink something very close to what this huge ballpark in Toronto (of all places) is named. I personally think Rogers squandered a huge opportunity to break the ice, so to speak, with the general population in British Columbia. If they had decided to just add a bit of west coast flair to the name I think people would have been ok. Why couldn’t it have been “Rogers Pacific Arena”? How about “Rogers Pacific Place?” Instead, they went with a fairly generic name that reminds people of a ball park in the “centre of the universe”.
Whether or not it’s out of sheer stubbornness , I know a few people who are going to continue to call it GM Place going forward. It’s not out of any allegiance to General Motors but more of a dislike for the new name. Also, we can no longer call it “The Garage” anymore! “The Phone Booth” is already used for the Bell Centre in Montreal. There’s nothing left!