Oval secrecy

Halifax council sells naming rights for unknown amount to an unknown corporation to be announced at an unknown date.

Halifax council Tuesday voted---in secret---to award naming rights to the long track skating Oval on the Halifax Common. But council refused to make public the details of the deal(s)---including not only the name(s) of the corporation(s) awarded naming rights, but also, remarkably, the dollar amount(s) for selling off a piece of city legacy. (See thecoast.ca/bites for commentary on the naming.) We’re told that there may not be a single corporate name for the entire facility, but rather that various structures associated with The Oval will have different names. Regardless, The Coast will refuse to call The Oval by any corporate name.

Council said the corporate name(s) will be revealed at the grand opening of The Oval, which is now under construction. Left unsaid was that the grand opening is a moving target.

Construction tender documents call for a “mid-December” end to construction, a date that is repeated by Skate HRM, the city department responsible for Oval operations. “Construction of the Oval venue should be substantially complete by December 15, 2011,” states the FAQ distributed by Skate HRM. “We all should be skating mid-December 2011,” it said via its Twitter account, @SkateHRM. Not a hard and fast date, but still leaves some wiggle room. The Oval’s website and Facebook page have been more vague, giving a broad opening date of December 2011.

John Henry, Skate HRM’s Oval manager, pushes the opening back a bit, saying it’s probably closer to “late-December,” and he’s hoping the permanent Oval might be open for a holiday skate---“if all goes according to plan.” But, warns Henry, “construction could be delayed should we have inclement weather, and of course there are always the unknowns on a project of this size and magnitude.”

Whatever the date, council’s secret naming strategy will serve to to place grand opening attention more on corporation(s), and less on people enjoying the ice.

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