SBD/April 23, 2012/Facilities

Developers Unveil Financing Plan For $325M, 20,000-Seat Markham Hockey Arena

Roustan said there is no "active work" to get pro franchise to make arena its home
The financing framework for a "proposed 20,000-seat arena in Markham was unveiled to the public on Friday, and it hinges on the town supplying half the $325-million cost up front," according to Matthew Scianitti of the NATIONAL POST. The plan for the venue in the Toronto suburb "will now go to another meeting and a final vote on Thursday." Eleven members of the 12-person council, including Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti, "voted in favour, although an amendment was made allowing any other interested private investors to come forward in the next week with an alternative financial proposal." It is "hoped the venue can open sometime in 2014." Initial reports indicated that Bauer Performance Sports Chair Graeme Roustan, in partnership with Ontario developer Rudy Bratty and other private investors, was "committed to paying 90% to 100% of the building cost." However, the financing plan submitted to town council showed that half of the cost "will come from Roustan, who is facilitating the design and construction process." The other $162.5M "will come from Markham, which will be able to pay the debt over 20 years at a 4.6% fixed interest rate." The financial framework "insists Markham already has [revenue] streams prepared to pay back its share of the cost." Since the building will be "community owned, a lease agreement would be reached with Roustan’s GTA Centre LP, and those payments would help the town recoup its initial outlay." Roustan has said that he is "interested in bringing the 2015 world junior hockey championship to Markham, and already heard from interested parties who want to bring events to Markham" (NATIONAL POST, 4/21).

PATIENCE IS A VIRTURE: In Toronto, Josh Tapper noted stakeholders "remained cagey" on whether a Markham arena will be the "future home of an NHL franchise, a move some speculate is only a matter of time." Roustan said, "There’s going to be absolutely no active work to get any professional sports franchise to call the facility their home. Now, that doesn’t mean to say I don’t look at opportunities to come my way” (TORONTO STAR, 4/21). Also in Toronto, Dave Perkins wrote, "These guys have watched and learned." They saw former Research In Motion co-Chair Jim Balsillie’s "full-contact attempts to bull his way into a league that obviously didn’t want him." They saw how "quietly Winnipeg got its ducks in a row before being rewarded," and they "see Quebec City doing the same thing." They know teams in certain U.S. cities "will continue to founder and they know this market would embrace a second team with the same regard it holds for, say, oxygen." Perkins: "You know Bratty and Roustan’s group has money. Once they have the playpen, what else will stop them, if they go about it the right way? If you’re a fan of a second team at a privately built arena hard by a GO Train station 25 minutes from downtown Toronto, just sit back and listen. The silence will tell you if it’s coming" (TORONTO STAR, 4/22).
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