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Rogers snaps up naming rights to future downtown home of Edmonton Oilers

EDMONTON - Already heavily invested in the sponsorship of the Edmonton Oilers, Rogers Communications has now acquired the naming rights for Edmonton's future downtown arena.

Calling it a "moment of pleasure and joy for everyone involved," Edmonton Oilers president Patrick LaForge told a Tuesday news conference the naming rights agreement moves the $480-million arena in downtown Edmonton "closer to reality."

"The naming of the arena is a very key step because it allows the child to have a name. And to have that name belong to one of Canada's largest communications companies causes it to be out there in the public, with the sporting community and with investors at a very high profile. And that is really, really valuable."

Mayor Don Iverson said it's hoped construction of the building, the cornerstone to a massive downtown revitalization project, will begin next spring. Completion is scheduled for 2016.

The building will be called Rogers Place.

John Boynton, executive vice-president of the telecommunications giant, which last week signed a 12-year, $5.2-billion multi-media rights deal with the NHL, said the new agreement was a "natural extension of the relationship" between Rogers and the Oilers.

The agreement extends the 13-year telecommunications sponsorship deal the two parties signed in October. Rogers already sponsors the team's television broadcasts, website and mobile app.

No financial details of the naming rights agreement were revealed, but LaForge said $1 million annually is "not even in the ballpark."

He said the announcement is a "key step" in the new arena, which has been the subject of much debate in the city because of the price tag and the difficulty in securing funding for the final $100 million, and helps with the sustainability of the franchise in the future. Oilers owner Daryl Katz is investing about $240 million.

Iverson said he didn't know how big the deal is since it was between the Oilers and Rogers. He said part of the negotiations for the new arena project was that all the operating costs, and the operating revenues to offset those costs, would be the responsibility of the Oilers. Operating revenues include the naming rights.

The deal is part of the Oct. 1 announcement by Rogers to invest $700 million over the next four years in its LTE network and enhance its sporting presence in Alberta.

Boynton said the agreement "reinforces Rogers's commitment to sports in Canada" and further enhances the company's desire to "become the No. 1 sports company in the country and to have Sportsnet become the No. 1 brand in the country."

Rogers already owns the naming rights to Rogers Centre stadium in Toronto, home of the Blue Jays, Rogers Arena in Vancouver where the NHL Canucks play and long-term media agreements with all major sports in North America.

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