Home Business & Economy Sports COVID economics: Langford woos Starlight for recovery of stadium & team sport

COVID economics: Langford woos Starlight for recovery of stadium & team sport

Tuesday January 19, 2021 | LANGFORD, BC [Updated January 20, 2021]

BUSINESS ANALYSIS by Mary P Brooke, editor | Island Social Trends

It was a business thing for the City of Langford council to provide Mayor and Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) the signing authority on one of the biggest shifts for the city in quite a while — the renaming agreement for one of the city’s biggest assets.

The item on the January 18 Regular Council Meeting agenda last night was approved, late into a three-hour council meeting that was livestreamed as an audio teleconference (and later posted online).

Long known as Westhills Stadium, the city-owned 6,000 seat outdoor sports venue set prominently at 1089 Langford Parkway in the ‘national sports capital’ (that Langford pursues as a proud moniker) is soon to be renamed as Starlight Stadium.

Apparently the Westhills developer is fine about parting with the name for the stadium (as mentioned at the council meeting by Langford Mayor Stew Young).

A high-profile splash around the renaming is scheduled for the spring (once signed and sealed, the deal is set to take effect at April 1, 2021).

national sports capital, langford, westhills stadium
Langford: building a national sports capital. Signage on Langford Parkway in front of Westhills Stadium, ready for Pacific FC inaugural game [West Shore Voice News file photo, April 28, 2019]

The sponsor is Starlight Investments, a large REIT out of Toronto. They already have some real estate developments in Langford, including on Meaford Avenue, as well as in downtown Victoria at 810 Blanshard Street and 727 Fisgard Avenue.

Great things for the City:

With the stadium renaming, in one fell swoop (achieved after likely many long hours of strategy and negotiations) the City of Langford has set in motion a number of key things:

Westhills Stadium, October 2020
The Westhills Stadium has been sitting unused for team sport during the COVID-19 pandemic [October 2020 – Island Social Trends]
  • the resurrection of the stadium as a team sport and event venue that has been essentially inactive for almost a year during the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • a restart for the Pacific Football Club (PFC) professional soccer organization following COVID economic interruption;
  • long-term revenues for the City of Langford (presently in the paperwork for five years with options to renew for up to a 16th year) within their parks and recreation portfolio;
  • an even broader plank for the City’s ‘national sports capital’ mission and messaging;
  • a feather in the cap of the current (longstanding) City of Langford Council which is pulling through for a few key sectors of the local business community.

Three-way green light:

The arrangement evidently suits all three parties — City of Langford, Starlight Group Property Holdings Inc, and Pacific Sports FC Inc. — for their shared interest in sport and the business of sport.

Stew Young, January 2021
Langford Mayor Stew Young

At last night’s council meeting, Langford Mayor Stew Young seemed set to say more but kept it brief, saying the deal is “very good news for the City”, and that it will help the Pacific FC team. He acknowledged a “new development company putting up over half a million dollars over five years” to support local sport and community. He thanked Starlight for “stepping up and helping us out”.

“Starlight was approached by Pacific FC and they decided they wanted to sponsor it,” says Langford Councillor Lanny Seaton who chairs the city’s Parks, Recreation, Culture and Beautification Committee. “No revenue from the stadium has been tough,” Seaton told Island Social Trends, regarding the impact of public health social gathering restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 (which continue into 2021). The Starlight deal “is a good deal for us”, says Seaton. “It’s the largest revenue we’ve ever had.”

“We are looking forward to the Starlight Stadium being part of the Langford community starting this spring,” said Daniel Drimmer, CEO and President, Starlight Investments. “We’ve enjoyed 10 years of working the Victoria area and our company is made up of many sports fans so this naming was a natural fit for us,” says Drimmer.

Daniel Drimmer, Starlight Investments
Daniel Drimmer, CEO and President, Starlight Investments

Starlight Investments has grown to $20 billion AUM (Assets Under Management) in 2021, of which $2 billion is in Canadian commercial holdings (55 properties comprising 8 million square feet, in seven provinces).

No doubt Pacific FC is also pleased about their ability to move forward after a year in which they (like all professional team sports organizations) were set back by the social gathering restrictions of the pandemic.

In the fall of 2019 Pacific FC had wrapped up their first year as part of the newly minted Canadian Premier League (CPL). In December 2019 (just before COVID hit) Pacific FC had soft-launched their Indoor Training Centre in the Westhills area to use for professional and amateur sports training as well as for rental to local community sports groups and teams. And later in 2020 Pacific FC also teamed up with the SD62 school district in the west shore as part of soccer academy training at the middle school and high school levels.

“We are thrilled to be working with Starlight Investments as a future partner at our stadium,” says Brad Norris-Jones, Vice-President of Operations, Pacific FC. “Please stay tuned this spring when we unveil the newly named stadium alongside Starlight who are fans of both soccer and Langford,” he told Island Social Trends.

Season 2 for CPL is set to start May 22, 2021 on the May long weekend (pending the public health scenario during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic).

Pacific FC, soccer executives
Soccer executives at the August 24, 2019 opening of the expanded Westhills Stadium (from left): Josh Simpson, President, Pacific FC; Dean Shillington, Chairman, Pacific FC; David Clanachan, Commissioner, Canadian Premier League; and Rob Friend, CEO, Pacific FC. [West Shore Voice News – Mary Brooke]

Name, signage and payments:

The key terms of the three-way agreement (as published in the January 18, 2021 council meeting agenda) are:

  • Stadium to be called Starlight Stadium;
  • Five-year term with the option for two five-year renewals;
  • Annual naming right fees ranging from $75,000 to $155,000, depending upon the year;
  • Starlight Investments to receive one marquee sign (powered from dusk to 10 pm), one sign behind each goal, 10 stadium flags, one 40-ft roadside banner on the black fence next to the stadium, and municipal directional signage;
  • The City has the ability to approve the design of all signage, with the exception of the marquee sign;
  • Starlight Investments to be responsible for all design and branding; and
  • City and Pacific FC to be responsible for all production, installation and maintenance of signage, with the cost of this being split as follows: Pacific FC to cover 85% and City to cover 15%.

The City will receive 15% of the annual naming rights fee, less any costs associated with installing and maintaining the signage.

The first term of the agreement is from April 1, 2021 and December 31, 2026, which will take the next city council (election 2022) through another four years in this agreement. The agreement includes the option to be renewed for another 11 years after that.

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