The challenge of western lifestyle sponsorship in Alberta

//The challenge of western lifestyle sponsorship in Alberta

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The April 2016 issue of TSR included two stories with a rodeo theme, neither of which was particularly uplifting.

One was the impasse seemingly reached between the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) and Oilers Entertainment Group, owners of Edmonton’s new Rogers Place arena. Its former home, Northlands Arena, was slated for a major redevelopment that would leave it unsuited to the rodeo. Rogers Place was the only suitable venue in town, and the two locked horns last April over financial issues, including ownership of CFR inventory. What followed over the next several months was chronicled by TSR – an announcement that CFR would leave Edmonton, then that it had found a new home in Saskatoon, the firing of its General Manager and the resignation of its Business Advisory Committee, then the announcement that it would return to Edmonton and Northlands Arena, whose highly trumpeted redevelopment was seemingly on hold, at terms remarkably similar to those that it had earlier deemed unacceptable.

Since then, things appear to have settled down at CFR and the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association, the event’s owner, but promoters and sponsors of western lifestyle sports will face an important test in Edmonton come November. During the hiatus when it appeared that rodeo had fled Edmonton, Oilers Entertainment Group secured rights to another high-profile property: Professional Bull Riders’ (PBR)  Global Cup. PBR was acquired by IMG in 2015 and was featured in the July 2016 issue of TSR. It’s a slick, sponsor-friendly organization that differentiates itself from rodeo, but draws heavily from the same pool of sponsors. Come November, they’ll both be drinking from the same bucket in Edmonton, because PBR’s Global Cup will be held November 9 to 11, while the CFR will be running November 8 to 12.

The other western lifestyle story from last April looked at how the venerable Calgary Stampede had cinched its belt in response to the contraction in the oil industry. With the price of oil in the tank, the oil industry had cut its investment in Stampede sponsorship and in the many parties and events that had become synonymous with the Stampede.

As if that weren’t bad enough, even the weather frowned on the 2016 Stampede, with persistent rain contributing to an attendance figure that represented a 22-year low.

The good news is that sponsorship revenue reportedly did not fall, thanks largely to increased investment from sponsors outside the oil and gas industry. And though attendance was down, a price promotion ($5 admission between 5 pm and 7 pm on selected days) appears to have worked and will be repeated this year. And then there’s the annual canvas auction, long considered by Stampede watchers as a barometer Stampede health. Canvasses for the 2017 chuckwagon races brought in $2.42 million, up from last year’s $2.297 million. That may be a far cry from the 2012 record that topped $4 million, but it’s at least a step in the right direction.

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2017-04-15T21:06:57+00:00 April 15th, 2017|Pro|0 Comments

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