Ottawa Redblacks open the doors to TD Place

The CFL expansion franchise, playing its first game tonight, is one of three teams drawing crowds and advertisers to the new multi-purpose stadium.

The CFL’s newest team, the Ottawa Redblacks, kicks off its first season tonight, changing the game for sports advertisers in the nation’s capital.

The Redblacks join two other teams owned by Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group: the Ontario Hockey League’s Ottawa 67s and another expansion team, the North American Soccer League’s Ottawa Fury FC.

Some of the Redblacks’ sponsors were pre-existing sponsors of the 67s, but many more got involved with the pending completion of TD Place Stadium. The combination outdoor stadium/hockey arena complex will be the home of all three teams starting this month. TD Bank is the official bank of the teams in addition to having the naming rights to the stadium. Budweiser, Pepsi and Gatorade are the facility’s official beverage providers.

“That’s part of our value,” Adrian Sciarra, VP of partnerships and merchandise sales for OSEG, tells MiC. “We’re able to provide a venue with three professional sports teams, concerts and entertainment that keeps it very busy year round.”

Sciarra says that the response to the new team has been strong, both in terms of ticket sales and corporate interest. Nearly 30 sponsors have been announced already, with even more being announced in the near future and opportunities from new brands still available.

“I think it’s safe to say that of the three [teams], the Redblacks have the largest profile,” he says of adding a team with more national visibility. “They’ve certainly opened doors to new conversations with potentially larger companies.”

TD Place holds 24,000 people in the stadium where the Redblacks and Fury play, and just under 10,000 in the attached arena complex that houses the 67s. While the Redblacks play their first game tonight and their home opener July 18, OSEG is expecting comparable numbers to other teams in the league. National CFL broadcasts regularly see an average of 700,000 viewers, most of them males between 25 and 50 years old.

“We want to be technologically ready, and that means more digital and less fixed signage,” Sciarra says. TD Place is one of only two stadiums – the other being Toronto’s Rogers Centre – that has an uninterrupted, 110 yards of digital LED advertising screens visible to the broadcast camera at all times. There’s also a thinner 110-yard strip on the other side of the stadium, so fans in all areas of the stadium will be able to see the digital screens. There are also over 400 monitors on the concourses, which sponsors can use for partner activation and messaging. “I wouldn’t say it’s more advertising, but we are doing it in a newer way.”

Many of the Redblacks’ sponsors are national brands with involvement with other CFL teams, such as Purolator. MBNA will be launching an Ottawa Redblacks loyalty card program, much like the rewards program that exists for the other teams. But there are also local brands and companies connected to the Ottawa region, like Gabriel’s Pizza.

Redblacks games will be broadcast on TSN as part of the network’s exclusive CFL contract. Earlier this year, it was announced that TSN Radio 1200 was given the exclusive radio rights to all three OSEG teams.

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