Halifax Mayor Mike Savage, Scotiabank Sr. VP of the Atlantic Region Craig Thompson, and President and CEO of Trade Center Limited Scott Ferguson celebrate the naming rights deal. (Photo by Mike Dembeck)

For Scotiabank, teaming up with hockey venues is a natural fit.

So when operators Trade Center Limited (TCL) set out to find a naming rights partner for the Halifax Metro Centre in Nova Scotia, Canada, the bank was quick to jump to the front of the line.

The bank and home venue to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Halifax Mooseheads agreed to a 10-year, $6.5-million deal. For the first time since its opening in 1978, the downtown arena has a title sponsor as it becomes Scotiabank Centre.

“Over the past 10 years or so, with the events we’ve been able to attract, we have grown the corporate piece of the puzzle,” said President and CEO of Trade Center Limited Scott Ferguson. “It was the right time for us to go after naming rights. The value to the community, the value to the orgainization and to Scotiabank was at an all-time high.”

With multiple candidates for the contract in the running, TCL worked with a Toronto-based company called TrojanOne on the deal, which took about a year to complete. Ultimately, the Nova Scotia-based bank had the best offer.

Ferguson said that Scotiabank grabbing the winning bid was about more than being the most lucrative.

“We put a scorecard together that spoke about financial stability of the organization, how they are involved in the community and how they fit from a brand perspective,” said Ferguson. “They came out on top overall and it was about more than just the financial part.”

One of the reasons Scotiabank fit from a brand perspective is their involvement in hockey. In 2012, the bank and the National Hockey League renewed a partnership that has been in place since 2007 which makes Scotiabank the official bank of the NHL.

They became the official bank of the Edmonton Oilers in 2014 and signed a 20-year, $20 million naming rights deal to have their name on the Calgary Flames’ arena, the Saddledome, in 2010. However, Canada’s third-largest bank recently lost naming rights to the Ottawa Senators’ home venue (formally known as Scotiabank Place) to Canadian Tire.

Halifax is one of the most supportive cities in Canada when it comes to junior hockey. In the QMJHL, they rank second in attendance, drawing 8,171 per game – totaling over 277,000 – for the 2013-14 season. The team is packed with young stars, including a first, third and ninth overall draft pick in the NHL Draft in the last three years.

Scotiabank Senior Vice President of the Atlantic Region Craig Thompson said furthering their hockey connection made “perfect sense” but the reasoning for the bank’s investment goes beyond the sport they’ll be sponsoring.

“Halifax is where Scotiabank started in 1832,” he said. “We also already bank with the city and Trade Center Limited so it made sense for corporate bases. The bank has a strong history of giving back to communities where we do business and we saw an opportunity to do that as well.”

Scotiabank averages in the range of $50 million per year in charitable donations, some of which include the “Scotiabank blue nose marathon,” which raises several hundred thousand dollars per year for local charities.

These types of events combined with the hockey connection put Scotiabank a leg up in the competition for naming the Metro Centre.

“At the center of this is the work they do in the community,” said Ferguson. “They are heavily involved in minor sports and minor hockey. Their staff in Halifax is engaged at the community level.”

The naming rights deal will act as further good will for Scotiabank in the Halifax area. The city-owned venue will undergo major upgrades over the next several years, which includes 10,000 new seats and new concession stands and washrooms.

Upgrades to Scotiabank Centre will cost an estimated $5.3 million, all of which will come from the naming rights agreement.

“We are helping provide enhancements to the center and getting recognition within the community in return, which helps us with our branding. It works for all involved,” said Thompson.

The improvements will be made over the next three years, starting this fall. Updates will have to be made around the venue’s busy schedule, which includes professional basketball and major concerts. In August and September, Scotiabank Centre will host Alice in Chains, the Davis Cup and The Wiggles.

“Scotiabank’s sponsorship will start this fall, so it will appropriately start right along with our Mooseheads season,” Ferguson said.

As part of the deal, Scotiabank will also receive a logo at center ice, exclusivity marketing of financial services within the center and “hopefully a bigger luxury box,” Thompson joked.

Interviewed for this story: Craig Thompson, (902)420-3601; Scott Ferguson, (902)421-8000