How an Arena Redecoration Led the Belleville Senators to Launch a Creative Sponsorship Activation

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Daniela Passarelli, the marketing coordinator for the Belleville Senators, typically works to execute the team’s marketing strategy, managing how single-game and special-ticket packages and events are promoted across the market.

Heading into this past offseason, she was assigned to work on a different type of project – an arena redecoration.

After Belleville finished its first year with professional hockey, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators was looking for a way to start its second season off with something fresh. Primarily empty walls that appeared like a blank canvas in the team’s newly renamed CAA Arena presented the perfect opportunity for the Senators to build something of their own.

The goal, according to Passarelli, was to “improve the arena to give fans a better experience when they came back for year two.”

As the front office brainstormed different ways to fill the space, the operations team proposed the idea of converting the arena’s highest level into a bar scene, inspiring the partnership marketing group to loop in Molson Canadian, the Senators’ beer sponsor and founding partner.

From there, Passarelli and the marketing team got to work.

“As part of beautifying and branding our arena, I really loved the concept of stair-riser graphics and wanted to see that incorporated somehow. I saw them in other areas and sports venues and thought it would be awesome to get them installed here,” said Passarelli.

Her vision aligned with that of the Senators’ director of operations and COO, something that helped fuel the project. Passarelli’s graphic design experience — something she’d honed while creating visuals for ticketing and promotional campaigns, in-game content, merchandise or partnership marketing projects — prepared her for the project.

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With Passarelli acting as “the guardian of the brand,” and working with the same company that designed and wrapped Molson’s suite, the Senators brought the idea to life.

Over the summer, the blank canvas on the upper level was completely transformed into a Molson’s bar equipped with a branded staircase and wrapped beverage carts showcasing the company’s logo.  

While the lead-up to the project took time to plan, once the vision was in place, the redesign was executed in just a day or two. This was helped by the fact that the team worked with the same company that wrapped Molson’s suite, so it was “a fairly seamless process.”

According to Passarelli, “They understood the concept and direction quite well and were able to install in a quick turnaround.”

The reaction to the project has been overwhelmingly positive — so positive, that the Senators wrapped another set of stairs this past week.

By thinking outside the box and creating a unique activation opportunity for Molson, the Senators have certainly accomplished their offseason goal.