With the rising popularity of planned communities that include living, working, shopping and recreational environments, has come parallel interest in exploiting their sponsorship potential.

While sponsorship efforts around most such communities have been piecemeal, the developers of Toronto’s Downsview Park have included a corporate partnership plan from the get-go and eight months into the sales phase have landed four founding sponsors.

Downsview Park occupies 572 acres that were previously home to a Canadian Forces base on the north side of Toronto. In ’06, title of the land was transferred to Parc Downsview Park Inc., a Canadian government Crown corporation responsible for developing the site into parkland with 225 acres of adjoining residential and commercial real estate.

PDP will recoup most of the C$100 million invested in the build-out through sales and lease agreements with private developers for the five “neighborhoods” to be built on the 225 acres.

But PDP also hopes to generate roughly $1 million a year in sponsorship revenue, said Shawn Smith, vice president of XMC Sports & Entertainment, the experiential marketing agency hired to identify, package and sell the partnerships.

Thus far, XMC has secured founding sponsor deals with Anheuser-Busch, Inc.’s Budweiser; The Coca-Cola Co.; Pizza Pizza Ltd.; and Turtle Island Recycling Corp., each of which has signed a four-year deal valued in the low six figures.

Mixed-use Sponsorship
The packages XMC has crafted take advantage of the multiple facets of the property and include benefits associated with venue sponsorship, event sponsorship and municipal marketing.

Smith has thus far focused sales efforts on companies interested in on-site sales rights.

Coca-Cola gains the right to deploy vending machines in the park’s main concessions area, as well as pouring rights in the venues that make up the Downsview Park Sports Centre. Budweiser and Pizza Pizza gain sales rights in restaurants, bars and other locations managed by Downsview.

The companies do not automatically receive sales rights in retail outlets or other facilities owned by outside companies, but Downsview will make introductions to those tenants.

The sponsors also gain sales rights and other benefits at the more than 50 annual festivals, concerts and other events that take place in the park, as well as category exclusivity, the use of the Downsview Park logo, and exposure in ads and other marketing material.

Turtle Island gains status as the park’s exclusive waste management partner and receives branding on all garbage and recycling bins.

Smith is targeting the automotive, financial services and telecommunications categories, which he acknowledges will be more difficult to sell because he cannot offer sales rights, and the ability to establish permanent retail facilities or service-provider agreements with tenants is outside the scope of the sponsorship program.

In addition to exposure through events and promotional rights, sponsors will receive signage and display at the park’s permanent facilities, as well the right to use the park for private events.

Sponsors also have the opportunity to secure naming rights to some Downsview facilities.