CBS takes venue naming rights

Westpac Arena is now the CBS Canterbury Arena, but with the new sponsor considering a name change of its own it might not be long before the venue is rebranded again.

The Canterbury Building Society (CBS) was revealed as the new named sponsor at the arena yesterday morning after Westpac said earlier this month it would relinquish naming rights after 12 years.

CBS has secured the naming rights for the next 10 years but it is unclear how long the new name will remain, with plans to merge CBS with the Auckland-based Southern Cross Building Society and Marac Finance to create a new $2.2 billion bank.

The proposed "heartland" bank is yet to be named, but if the CBS name is dropped the arena is likely to switch its name as well.

Christchurch is used to the shifting names of its big venues, with Lancaster Park becoming Jade Stadium and in its present-incarnation, AMI Stadium. Westpac Arena was previously known as the WestpacTrust Centre.

The arena is Christchurch's biggest indoor venue and regularly hosts international music acts, trade shows and sporting events. It is owned by the Christchurch City Council and managed by subsidiary Vbase.

CBS chairman Gary Leech said the new sponsorship deal had the support of its two potential merger partners, but CBS remained committed to the sponsorship if the merger did not go ahead.

The sponsorship would help build recognition in Canterbury where, despite a long history in the region, many people did not properly understand what CBS did. "We are probably the best-kept secret for a banking institution in our own region and we have to change that," he said.

If the merger did go ahead, Leech's preference was to retain the CBS brand but he was not adverse to changing the arena's name if required.

"We would like to think the CBS Canterbury brand would survive for quite a long time, if not indefinitely." He would not disclose how much was paid for the naming rights.

The Press