Roundup: Edmonton’s downtown arena will be called Rogers Place

This afternoon at Startup Edmonton, Rexall Sports (or should that be the Edmonton Arena Corporation) announced that it has reached a deal with Rogers Communications on the naming rights for Edmonton’s new downtown arena. When it opens in 2016, it’ll be known as Rogers Place.

Rogers Place

Here’s what the folks involved had to say. First, Daryl Katz:

“Today’s announcement helps make the new arena a reality and underscores its potential to make downtown Edmonton a magnet for our community and for new investment by world-class companies like Rogers.”

Here’s what Rogers Communications Executive Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer John Boynton said:

“Today’s announcement builds on our long-term commitment to the Edmonton Oilers, its hockey fans and our investment in Alberta. Rogers Place will be one of the most technologically enabled stadiums in North America; we look forward to bringing passionate fans a connected game experience powered by the country’s fastest LTE network.”

And here’s what Mayor Don Iveson said:

“This is a great day for Edmonton’s downtown and our city. Rogers Place will become a beacon in our downtown, one that will foster a new sense of energy that will further attract development and investment in the heart of our city.”

Here’s a look at how the arena is envisioned to fit into the new downtown:

The name certainly didn’t inspire everyone, but some were more annoyed by the revenue than the name. Under the terms of the agreement between City Council and Daryl Katz, his Edmonton Arena Corporation (EAC) would receive revenue from the naming rights:

EAC will operate the new arena and pay all operating and maintenance expenses, and will receive all operating revenues, including naming rights and parking revenue.

Of course, no financial terms were disclosed as part of today’s announcement. Rogers said the deal is part of its previously announced investment into Alberta:

Rogers announced on October 1st a $700M commitment over the next four years to further enhance and expand Rogers LTE – Canada’s fastest LTE network, open additional retail locations, fuel business growth and continue to build its presence in sports in Edmonton and across Alberta.

In addition to network enhancements, new retail locations, and new business services, Rogers acquired the official sponsorship and marketing rights for the Edmonton Oilers, Edmonton Oil Kings, and Rexall Place.

Rogers Place

I’m happy that the arena has a name and has moved another step toward becoming a reality, but I do think this is a missed opportunity for Edmonton. Rogers benefits from this deal obviously, but Edmonton doesn’t because “Rogers Place” could be anywhere. This is something we get wrong so often, partly because of our “capital city curse” as I like to call it, but partly because we don’t have a strong brand to hang these sorts of things on. Sure, most arenas and sporting complexes carry a sponsored name, but isn’t that a great opportunity to be different? Instead, it’s all about the money.

David Staples seems to agree with me on this point:

“The first naming of the arena, back in 1974 when it was called the Edmonton Coliseum was the best. That was the right name for our building. It still is.”

Yup. Too bad.

Here’s some other reaction from around the web:

https://twitter.com/OilersNation/status/407971780406435840

https://twitter.com/EricWarnke/status/408089659978571776

https://twitter.com/uncleheth/status/408084022309289985

In a vote on the Cult of Hockey blog, “Rogers Coliseum” seemed to be the favorite choice, ahead of “Some other name entirely” and “Rogers Place” in last. In a poll on Global’s website, more than 60% said they didn’t like the name “Rogers Place”. You can watch an overview of the announcement at CTV Edmonton. Also check out the Huffington Post’s coverage here.

You can learn more about Rogers Place on its new website. You can also follow it on Twitter.

Telus Mobility switching to GSM?

Post Image It’s a headline I never thought I’d read – Telus considers dumping is ‘Betamax’ of wireless networks. Apparently executives are taking a look at how feasible it is to move from the current CDMA standard to the more widely used GSM. As a Telus Mobility subscriber this is exciting news! I’m not holding my breath though.

The idea "has been presented at the board level and is being actively considered," said one source familiar with the situation who asked not to be identified. The source cautioned that there were no guarantees Telus will go ahead with a changeover, which analysts say could cost about $500 million.

The Rogers network is the only GSM one in Canada at the moment, with both Telus and Bell operating on CDMA. There are significant advantages to being on GSM – most new phones are launched for it first (such as the RAZR and iPhone) and Telus could get a cut of the roaming fees that Rogers collects.

Seems to me that if they were going to do this, they should have done it years ago. The article points out that "4G" networks are on the way, though no one knows how many years it will be until a standard is adopted. It would suck if Telus switched to GSM, only to have to build out a 4G network soon thereafter.

Read: TheStar.com

UPDATE (10/6/2009): The new HSPA+ network built by Telus and Bell will be live in November, when both carriers will start selling the iPhone.

Ringtones are a complete rip-off

Post ImageI’ve never purchased a ringtone for my cell phone, and I don’t ever intend to – they are just too damn expensive. How expensive? On Telus, ringtones cost $3.50 CDN each. With Bell, they range from $2.50 to $4.00 CDN each. And on Rogers, comparable ringtones start at $3.00 CDN each, excluding a 75 cent download fee.

So after a little math we get an average cost of $3.50 CDN for a single ringtone. What else could you buy for $3.50?

  • My favorite – two items from the McDonald’s Value Picks Menu. And for 49 cents more, you could get one of the Value Meals.
  • You could purchase three complete songs from iTunes.
  • Two 710 ml bottles of Gatorade at Wal-Mart.
  • Almost two Grande coffees at Starbucks, or two Extra Large coffees at McDonald’s.
  • You could store 20 GB of data at Amazon S3 for a month. Or 1 GB for 20 months. Or you could transfer up to 15 GB in a month.
  • Any one of the 63,275 items available on eBay in just the DVD, HD-DVD & Blu-ray category that are less than $3.50.
  • A breakfast sandwich from Tim Horton’s.
  • And of course, three items from pretty much any dollar store!

Can you think of a worse deal? Cupcakes are expensive. Perhaps gas – you could only get 4.3 liters in Edmonton today for $3.50 CDN. Transportation in general sucks actually. One trip on ETS costs $2.50 CDN.

The high price of ringtones is just sick. Why pay Bell $4.00 for a ringtone when you could pay them $5.99 and get an entire movie streamed to your phone? It’s absurd.

Please don’t buy ringtones – it only encourages the wireless carriers to charge such ridiculous prices.

Sonic 102.9 FM acquired by Rogers

Post ImageAny Sonic-heads out there? Big news regarding one of Edmonton’s newest radio stations! It appears that Sonic 102.9 FM has been acquired by Rogers Communications. Details from Broadcaster Magazine via Tod Maffin:

Rogers Communications, long seeking a radio presence in Edmonton and northern Alberta, has found its channel, with a $39.8-million acquisition of OK Radio’s Sonic Radio 102.9 FM and World Radio 101.7 (CKER FM).

The deal also includes two stations and a transmitter in Fort McMurray, a station in Grande Prairie and transmitters there and in Peace River and Tumbler Ridge, B.C.

The deal will be heard by the CRTC on September 11th, though it is expected to be approved. This has got to be some kind of record! I mean Sonic only launched in 2005, and now it has been sold. I guess their former owner, OK Radio, was founded a long time ago though, back in 1973.

Hopefully the new owners don’t change too much…

Read: Broadcaster Magazine

UPDATE: You can find Sonic 102.9 on the web at http://www.sonic1029.com.

Inukshuk Wireless Internet

Post ImageSay it with me now – wireless everywhere! Looks like it’ll be happening in Canada sooner than expected too, according to Om Malik:

The Canadians are taking a lead on the US, and are putting together a nationwide fixed wireless broadband network, according to Digital Home Canada. Two Canadian incumbents – Rogers Communications and Bell Canada have decided to pool all their licensed wireless broadband sepctrum into a new company – Inukshuk Internet – that will be equally owned and controlled by the cable guys and the phone company. They will also equally share transmission capacity and will work with other wireless broadband providers such as Clearwire to make sure that wireless broadband users can roam on other networks. Inukshuk will build and operate the network, that within three years should bring wireless broadband to two-thirds of Canadians. It is going to cost $200 million and will cover 40 cities and approximately 50 rural and remote communities across Canada.

This is a glimpse into the future my friends, mark my words. It won’t be long until we can walk anywhere and be connected to the Internet. And when a cable and a phone company team up, well you know it’s got to be important.

The Globe and Mail has more on the story:

“The promise of wireless broadband is here and Bell and Rogers have the expertise, resources and commitment to make it happen,” said Bob Berner, chief technology officer of Rogers. “This is a powerful tool for Canadian businesses and consumers — both of whom will benefit from the substantially increased and accelerated competition the network will bring.”

I think the name is particularly interesting, Inukshuk. An inukshuk, similar to the logo chosen for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, was historically important for navigating across the arctic tundra. As there were no natural landmarks (just endless seas of white) native peoples would build inukshuks to help them mark where they had been and to find their way to various locations. In that sense, inukshuks kind of connected the north. Wireless everywhere is going to connect the north again.

Read: Om Malik