Convention centre counting on big bank’s name to attract big business


The previously named Winnipeg Convention Centre is counting on the international recognition of a big bank’s name to make it a big player on the convention centre circuit.
The Winnipeg Convention Centre will now be known as the RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg, as a result of a naming rights partnership agreement between the convention centre and RBC Royal Bank, although the bank’s name will not appear on the convention centre’s exterior until January 1, 2016. The upgraded convention centre is expected be opened sometime in that year.
As construction begins on the empty parking lot on York Avenue, the announcement is another chapter in the over $180-plus-million expansion and renovation project.
“The Winnipeg Convention Centre is very excited to partner with RBC on this milestone occasion,” said Klaus Lahr, president and CEO, RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg. 
“We are thrilled to have their name attached to our convention centre for years to come. RBC has played a significant role in the history of our country and having their support is monumental.  
“This agreement is a further sign of the significance of our expansion as we continue to remain competitive in the Canadian convention industry and reposition ourselves in the community,” he added.
“We at RBC are proud to share our brand with one of Winnipeg's most iconic meeting places,” said RBC regional president Rob Johnston.
With the expansion and renovation, the RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg will double in size and extend south over York Avenue. The new facility will include multi-purpose divisible space, additional underground parking and main floor public assembly space. 
The third floor will feature new exhibit space that will connect to the existing building and create over 135,000 square feet of contiguous, pillarless trade and consumer show space. A highlight on the third floor will be the City Room which will be located above York Avenue with full windows on the east and west sides. 
Earlier in the year, Lahr told a group of REALTORS® that the convention centre will possess “a dance floor the size of which you’ve never seen. It will be a stunning room.”
Below on street level, York Avenue will function as a new downtown weather protected gathering place.
“The convention centre is an important anchor for Winnipeg’s sports, hospitality, and entertainment district,” said Mayor Sam Katz. “This partnership agreement is exciting for our city.  I am pleased to see the work begin on the expansion of the convention centre, which will create a wonderful and vibrant welcoming place for both Winnipeggers and visitors to our city, as well as showcase our downtown.”
“Manitoba continues to solidify its presence as an important economic and cultural centre through facilities such as the RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg which brings local, national and international visitors to our province,” said Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger. 
“The expansion of the Convention Centre is another long-term important step to supporting the renewed energy that is revitalizing downtown Winnipeg; helping Winnipeg and all of Manitoba thrive. This project will ensure Winnipeg’s economy remains strong and attract events that will benefit Manitobans in the years to come.”
Funding for this project was announced on June 25, 2012. Its total cost is estimated to be over $181 million. Federal funding for this project comes from the Building Canada Fund — Major Infrastructure Component, under which the Canadian government is setting aside up to one-third of total eligible costs, to a maximum federal contribution of $46,646,667. 
“Today, work begins to modernize one of Winnipeg’s downtown landmarks,” said Winnipeg South Centre, Joyce Bateman. “Our government is proud to invest in this project which will create local jobs and contribute to the local economy.
“I am also glad to see the new RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg receiving important private sector financial support through today’s partnership announcement,” she added.
The province and city  are each contributing up to $51 million. 
The balance of funding will come from new incremental property tax revenues from an integrated hotel and commercial development adjacent to the convention centre, as well as additional revenue generated by the convention centre.