Sean Reid pulled down his tent like they told him to, but he’s none too happy about it.
The president of the Surrey Lacrosse Association says Guildford Town Centre ordered him to take down a tent his group had set up inside the mall to promote the sport and recruit new players — a $1,200, eight-by-12 pop-up tent the club bought in its off-season. He said that last year, the club signed up about 30 new members “directly from our efforts at the mall. Therefore, we decided to apply for a promotional space again this year and were granted three separate weekends.
“My biggest concern is that there was no effort to explain why there were no tents allowed and the cost that was incurred by the non-profit association to promote a sport,” Reid told the Now-Leader. “We were not selling drugs or weapons and actually trying to help kids get active.
“I am continuously looking for ways to reach our surrounding community to get kids and families interested in Canada’s original national sport,” he said. “It seems everyone wants to charge money for youth sport promotions including the city itself. They are slowly eliminating any and all advertising for any club sport in all their arenas. Any club picture box will be eliminated once all the new arenas are built.”
Reid didn’t expect to be told by a security guard to pull down his promotional tent on Feb. 3 considering it was “well received in January when we were at the centre. There was plenty of traffic and lots of interest. The tent created the draw we wanted. The mall had apparently sent an email stating the tent was not allowed and upon reviewing our contract, it did not state no tents.”
Kyla Way, marketing director of Guildford Town Centre, said the shopping mall provides space, free of charge, to non-profit organizations. According to its approval guidelines, all displays are subject to approval and there’s a size restriction of 10 feet (length) by eight feet (width) by five feet (height).
Last year the mall provided space to 24 charitable organizations and there were 35 bookings with the mall’s non-profit program, “which is approximately 7,000 square feet to support local charities per years,” Way said.
More than 14.5 million shoppers walk through the mall each year.
“Every now and then once a non-profit organization is set up within the centre we may need to work with them to ensure they are in the correct location or that their display is what was approved in the booking contract,” Way told the Now-Leader. “This was the case this past weekend. A local sports group set up a large tent which was not approved in the contract. It was requested to be removed as it is a fire safety hazard for the centre and is not permitted by the fire department. We look forward to welcoming the sports team back at the end of the month, minus the tent.”
Reid said after he took the tent down, it left a “meagre display of what it was. Again, all to promote youth getting active in sport.”
“The tent had to get taken down otherwise they were going to forcefully remove it,” he said. “It’s going to sit in storage now. This is why we purchased it, for our presentation in the mall, because it’s aesthetically pleasing and it gives us recognition for our sport.”