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PNE announces sponsor for new amphitheatre, asks public to vote on name

A rendering for the new PNE amphitheatre is shown. (PNE) A rendering for the new PNE amphitheatre is shown. (PNE)
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Freedom Mobile's name will be on the new, $103-million PNE amphitheatre when it opens in 2026, but what exactly comes after the company's name remains to be decided.

The PNE is asking the public to vote on four options for the official name of the new venue in a poll on its website. The options are: 

  • Freedom Mobile Amp, a reference to the previous PNE amphitheatre it will replace;
  • Freedom Mobile Arch, an allusion to the new venue's unique architecture, which is slated to include the world's "largest free-span timber frame";
  • Freedom Mobile Rise, which the PNE says is a reference to its location in Vancouver's Hastings-Sunrise neighbourhood
  • And Freedom Mobile Place, in reference to the venue's purpose as a community gathering place.

The PNE and Freedom Mobile also reserve the right to make the final decision on the venue's name, "which may not be one of the choices above," according to the attraction's website.

The poll closes at 5 p.m. on Friday, June 7.

In addition to naming rights, Freedom's 12-year agreement with the PNE includes "a partnership" on other PNE events, including the annual summer fair and the Halloween-themed Fright Nights.

While the duration of the agreement was announced Friday, its value has not been made public. Asked for a dollar figure, PNE spokesperson Laura Ballance told CTV News the information is proprietary and will not be released, but she described it as "a significant investment."

Officials from the PNE, Freedom's parent company Quebecor, the City of Vancouver and the province participated in a sod turning ceremony for the project on Friday.

Construction on the new venue is budgeted at $103.7 million, a total that was revised upwards from the initial budget of $64.8 million last year.

The vast majority of the cost will be funded by loans from the City of Vancouver to the PNE, which are expected to be paid back over an 11-year period with revenue generated by the venue – including through selling sponsorship rights.

When Vancouver city councillors voted to approve an increased loan amount for the project last July, they did so on advice from city staff indicating that improvements to the project plans would increase the revenue it ultimately generates and lead to faster repayment of the loans. 

When completed, the amphitheatre is expected to be able to accommodate audiences ranging from 1,500 to 10,000. It will include VIP suites, lounge space, common areas and catering options along with amenities such as accessible washrooms, merchandise sales and food and drink concession.

In a news release announcing the PNE's agreement with Freedom Mobile Friday, Mayor Ken Sim said the new amphitheatre promises to be "one of the most remarkable venues on the entire West Coast of North America."

"Today marks just the beginning of this exciting journey," Sim said. "We are proud to bring on Freedom Mobile as the naming rights partner. This is just the start of the work we are undertaking to be bolder and more creative to generate revenue for the city." 

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