By Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — From the flashy full-motion video signage outside the building to the small logos on napkins at the concession stands inside, the arena formerly known as Air Canada Centre is ready for its makeover.
Changes began Sunday on Day 1 of the $800-million, 20-year partnership between Scotiabank and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment with the erection of temporary signage at the venue now known as Scotiabank Arena.
It’s part of a phased rollout over the coming weeks as the 18-year-old home of the NBA’s Raptors and NHL’s Maple Leafs undergoes its first name change.
Scotiabank executive vice-president and chief marketing officer John Doig said the process is much more than just an arena rebrand.
“We are reimagining the total experience,” Doig said. “How you get there, what does it feel like as you walk down, what is the digital interaction that you may opt in for as you come towards the building.”
The conversion will include new signage on the scoreboard and in key spots throughout the arena’s interior as well as a new logo on the roof. A major renovation of the “Scotia Club” restaurant is underway and there are smaller things to consider too, like new logos on pens and lanyards, for example.
“We identified 150-plus categories of things,” said MLSE chief venues and operations officer Nick Eaves. “So from signs to websites, letterheads to business cards, it goes on and on and on.”
Outside the building, some Scotiabank Arena signage will have the ability to change colour and incorporate full-motion video. Red lighting could be used when the Raptors are playing and blue when the Maple Leafs are in action.
In addition, the eight-year-old video screen by Maple Leaf Square — a popular gathering spot during playoff games — will be upgraded.
“It will be bigger,” Eaves said in a recent interview. “Technology obviously allows for it to be a much more dynamic image.”
Plans are also in the works to ease lineups outside high-congestion areas around the venue. Digital signage and apps will be used to help spectators enter and exit the building in an expedient fashion.
“We’re going to renovate and improve the gates so that aesthetically they’re in keeping with the evolution of this building, and they’re modern and contemporary and they reflect the brand,” Eaves said.
“But we also have been looking at the operational process and understanding flows, and where fans are coming from, and what their wait times are and how we can improve upon those things so that we can get them to their seat as quickly as possible.”
The venue will remain fully functional through the summer — about two-dozen concerts are booked through July and August — as crews work on the changes.
“It’s a pretty proud moment having a part of a transformation from something that has been so familiar to this brand new presentation of a really shared vision,” Eaves said. “For people to own a piece of that and help deliver it, I know from my perspective is an awfully proud thing.”
Even though its naming rights deal has expired, Air Canada will carry on as an official travel partner for the Maple Leafs and Raptors.
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