The Westlock Rotary Club has earned the right to name the new Spirit Centre, with its more than $250,000 in donations and continued fundraising efforts.
The club has yet to determine what they would like the name to be, and in any event the name will have to be approved by town council before it is official, said Rotary spokesperson Randy Wold. The right to name the facility, however, comes as an added bonus for the group.
“We didn’t know about the naming rights when we made the commitment,” he said.
When they first heard of the plans for the Spirit Centre, Rotary Club members decided amongst themselves to start putting away money.
When the plebiscite campaign started up, Rotary came forward and made the commitment to donate $250,000, pending the outcome of the vote.
“We were instrumental in maybe helping people make their decision,” Wold said. “We were doing what we could to help put this vote through because we all believe in it.”
The Spirit Foundation came out with the campaign selling naming rights for various parts of the new facility — including the arena, the fieldhouse and dressing rooms — after the Rotary Club already committed $250,000. However, the foundation wasn’t able to attract a $500,000 donation to name the facility.
As the Rotary Club had already come forward with a much larger donation than any other group, the foundation awarded naming rights to them.
Wayne Peyre, president of the foundation, said having the Rotary Club on board has been invaluable to their efforts.
“It’s been critical. They were one of the first groups that backed the project and recognized the importance of it, so it was crucially important for us to have the support of the Rotary Club,” he said
He added that while they are still about $500,000 short of their overall fundraising goals, he is confident another flood of donations will come in closer to the facility’s completion.
“We’re a lot further along than we’d anticipated, so that’s really positive,” he said.
Rotary has been a big supporter of this project right from the beginning for many reasons, Wold noted, but first and foremost is that Rotarians believe this is an essential component of Westlock’s future.
“In order for a community to be viable and continue its growth, you have to have things for people in the community,” he said.
“If we didn’t have an arena, a swimming pool, a golf course, I believe we would have a dying town.”
The Jubilee Arena is more than 40 years old, and the cost of bringing it up to code was almost as much as the cost for a new facility.
Wold said he expects the club members to make a final decision on a name for the new facility some time in February, and once council approves the name, an announcement will be made.