Whitecaps May Be In Legal Hot Water With BC Place Over Naming Rights

VANCOUVER, CANADA - APRIL 12: The field crew waters the turf before the MLS game between D.C. United and the Vancouver Whitecaps FC at BC Place October 12, 2011 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

BC Place demanding that Whitecaps stop using "Bell Pitch" to refer to their stadium.

On the eve of their second MLS season, with anticipation high after an exciting offseason, there may be some trouble brewing around the Vancouver Whitecaps. The organization that runs BC Place is making noise about taking legal action, in the form of a cease-and-desist order, against the Whitecaps because of the team's use of the term "Bell Pitch" when referring to their stadium.

According to comments BC Place Pavilion Corp. chairman David Podmore made to the Vancouver Sun, the Whitecaps are breaking their agreement by calling the recently renovated stadium anything other than BC Place. The Whitecaps' jersey sponsor is Bell Canada, a deal that is reportedly worth more than $4 million a year.

"To be clear about this, neither the Whitecaps nor Bell have any rights to utilize the name Bell Pitch or to name any components of the building or the building itself," he said. "PavCo has not given any [of those] rights to any of them. Their rights are limited to advertising within the inner bowl of the stadium and it is very, very clear in the agreement. And we will take the steps necessary to stop them using the term Bell Pitch."

Much of this situation appears to revolve around a failed deal that would have granted BC Place naming rights to Bell's biggest competitor, Telus. The communications giant had essentially agreed to a $40 million, 20-year deal to name the stadium Telus Park. But the BC government nixed the deal on the grounds that it "wasn't in the best interests" of the taxpayers who funded the stadium's renovation.

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