SBD/August 21, 2012/Facilities

Live Nation Exec Says Planned Markham Arena Not Viable Without Anchor Sports Tenant

Live Nation Canada Chair Riley O’Connor yesterday said that a proposed Markham arena “will need an NHL franchise, other pro hockey or basketball team, because concerts won’t be able to generate enough revenue for a successful business,” according to Van Alphen & Javen of the TORONTO STAR. O’Connor said, “You really need a major tenant to make that happen. In almost all major Canadian arenas, that’s an NHL team, an AHL team, a major junior hockey team. You can’t do it on concerts alone.” The comments come after Bauer Sports Performance Chair and GTA Sports & Entertainment Chair & CEO Graeme Roustan said that the Markham facility “can work well without an NHL franchise.” O’Connor’s comments “mark the first time that someone in the arena group of consultants and advisers has raised doubts about the project’s viability without a major tenant.” Roustan responded, “How can Riley say that? He won’t be operating the building. He doesn’t know the costs. That’s what Global Spectrum is doing for us.” Van Alphen & Javen note Philadelphia-based Global Spectrum is “another partner in the project,” and the company has estimated “the 20,000-seat Markham arena could attract 133 events annually.” Global Spectrum Senior VP/Business Development & Client Relations Frank Russo said that his firm “provided the estimate of event days and described it as a ‘conservative realistic number’ for financial projections.” Russo said, “We certainly feel the arena can be viable with 130-plus nights of activity, including some form of hockey -- whether it’s NHL or not remains to be seen” (TORONTO STAR, 8/21).
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