The Biggest Mary: Chicken chain Mary Brown's buys naming rights to Mile One Centre

·3 min read
Mile One Centre in downtown St. John's will soon be known as Mary Brown's Centre, after a deal was reached between the city and the fried chicken chain. (Jen White/CBC - image credit)
Mile One Centre in downtown St. John's will soon be known as Mary Brown's Centre, after a deal was reached between the city and the fried chicken chain. (Jen White/CBC - image credit)
Jen White/CBC
Jen White/CBC

Best of cluck to the St. John's sports teams who will be playing in Mile One Centre this season, under a new name.

Naming rights to the St. John's arena have been have been bought by the Newfoundland-based fried chicken franchise Mary Brown's.

The venue will be renamed Mary Brown's Centre as part of a 10-year deal worth $1.5 million, said St. John's Sports and Entertainment chair and Ward 3 Coun. Jamie Korab in an interview with CBC News.

"It's good for Mile One. It's good for the city," Korab said.

The 6,000-seat venue has carried the Mile One moniker since its opening in 2001, because of its location at the start of the Trans-Canada Highway.

The name change takes effect Nov. 5, and will include a new sign on the front of the building and sponsorship deals with the Newfoundland Growlers hockey team and Newfoundland Rogues basketball team.

Emma Grunwald/CBC
Emma Grunwald/CBC

The deal includes just Mile One Centre, not the St. John's Convention Centre, but Korab said the city may consider sponsorship deals for other public buildings in the future.

Korab said Mile One Centre has been looking to make a sponsorship agreement since the original deal expired in 2011

The stadium has served as a home for several hockey and basketball teams during its time, as well as a popular venue for some of the province's biggest concerts.

The City of St. John's ownership of the arena — and subsidization — was an issue during the 2021 municipal election, as the city has stated it's not ready to sell it.

He said the deal has no bearing on future ownership of the stadium.

"We are excited to partner with Mary Brown's Chicken, one of the province's most successful homegrown companies Together, I am confident we will do great things for local entertainment," SJSE CEO Sheena McCrate said in a news release.

"Seeing the name Mary Brown in lights is a familiar sight across Newfoundland and Labrador, but soon, it will be on a much larger scale," said Mary Brown's in the release.

The stadium will be graced with a 45-foot, brightly lit Mary Brown's Centre sign. The company is also considering other signage on the eastern entrance and even on the roof.

Jeff Barlow, vice-president of marketing for Mary Brown's, said the company sees branding opportunities both inside and outside the facility.

Barlow said the deal holds value for the city and spectators, too.

"It was definitely a transaction that brought value to the city through the venue and to the participating groups that are involved with it," he said.

A Mary Brown's express restaurant will also open in the stadium.

"Our goal is to make this a fun experience," Barlow said. "Whatever we can do to raise the entertainment value we will do."

Moving on from Mile One

Former premier Danny Williams signed a 10-year deal for the naming rights when the stadium opened in 2001.

He said the original idea for the name came from the idea that St. John's is at the beginning of the Trans-Canada Highway, and the fact that Terry Fox began his Marathon of Hope in the city.

He said he wanted a name that was "iconic" and represented the city geographically.

Emma Grunwald/CBC
Emma Grunwald/CBC

"It stood the test of time, I think," he said Thursday. "It served its purpose. But you know, I don't have any nostalgic feelings about, you know, moving into a new future."

He said the new sponsorship could have a positive impact on the facility, especially since Mary Browns was started in the province.

"Knowing their marketing ability and the success they've had, you know, I think it'll be a good choice."

Although the name Mile One Centre will be no more, Williams said the "Mile One" moniker isn't necessarily gone forever.

"I've got the trademark for that name," he said. "I'm just trying to think if there's anywhere else that it could be used somewhere down the road."

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