Search for big building cash

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Anyone looking to slap their name on one of Ryerson’s shiny new building projects is going to have to pay up ­— big time.

“We’re looking for a donor to cough up about $15 million,” said Adam Kahan, vice president of university advancement.

The Maple Leaf Gardens building will still keep its illustrious name, but the university’s athletics centre inside will be named after the highest bidder.

The Student Learning Centre is also going to need a donor. For this, Kahan said the university is looking for a donation of at least $20 million.

Members of the university advancement team at Ryerson, along with certain volunteers, have started making lists of people of potential donors.The lists are comprised of alumni and friends of the university, said Kahan.

Kahan said potential donors have to be “cultivated” to the idea of donating large sums of money.

“You can’t just walk into someone’s office and ask them for millions of dollars,” he said.

Kahan thinks that both buildings are alluring enough to get donors to open their wallets. He said the Student Learning Centre will draw particular interest from donors because it is set to be a state-of-the-art building.

Donors will be attracted to donating to the athletics centre as “one of Canada’s most iconic buildings,” he said.

“I think the fundraising for Maple Leaf Gardens doesn’t take away at all from the fundraising for the Student Learning Centre,” said Ryerson President Sheldon Levy.

While the Gardens campaign has more planning completed, both buildings will fundraise simultaneously, Levy said.

It’s also possible that a donor approached for one project will be more interested in the other, he said.

When Queen’s University was developing its own multi-purpose campus facility, it received five major donations, according to the Queen’s Gazette. Three of the centre’s main buildings will be named after donors.

Kahan refused to put an “artificial deadline” on the fundraising endeavor, but said donations of this degree often take at least one year to finalize.

A similar fundraising strategy was used in 2007 to acquire a $15 million donation for the Ted Rogers School of Management. “If it wasn’t feasible, we wouldn’t be doing it,” Kahan said.

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