SBD/January 30, 2013/Facilities

Markham City Council Votes For Arena Plan; City Would Borrow Half Of C$325M Cost

Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti said Global Spectrum would cover operating losses
The financing plan for a “second NHL-size arena for the Greater Toronto Area” was able to “survive by a 7-6 margin in a vote" by the Markham, Ontario, City Council early this morning, according to David Shoalts of the GLOBE & MAIL. The financial plan promoted by GTA Sports & Entertainment Chair & CEO Graeme Roustan “would see Markham borrow the $325-million [all figures Canadian] cost of the arena with the private partners covering half of that.” The city would then “pay back its $162.5-million share through a ‘voluntary’ levy on developers’ new housing projects, parking revenue and surcharges on event tickets.” But there is “no guarantee the city will not be responsible for any losses.” The council approved the financing last spring, but a motion to "kill the deal and halt all work on the arena was introduced for Tuesday’s meeting.” However, the arena "will not proceed unless the final agreement between Markham and the arena developers is approved by council.” That agreement is “still subject to negotiation.” Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti, who “backs Roustan's plan, tried to soothe fears the city could be stuck with the operating losses of the arena by announcing Global Spectrum Inc., the company Roustan says will manage the arena, will cover them.” Roustan said that he and Ontario developer Rudy Bratty “are not chasing a team.” But that position “evaporated quickly” last night when former NHLPA Exec Dir Paul Kelly “stepped forward to speak to council.” Kelly said, "From the moment I became executive director of the NHL Players’ Association I heard of the long-term vision of the National Hockey League to expand from the present 30 to 32 teams.” Shoalts notes Kelly’s “implication was those two additional teams could be in the Greater Toronto Area and Quebec City” (GLOBEANDMAIL.com, 1/30).

SERVICES NEEDED: In Toronto, Tony Van Alphen reports several Markham residents “noted they support an arena but not the idea of using public money because those funds should be spent on more important services such as transit and parks.” City Council member Valerie Burke said that the city has “far more important priorities, such as infrastructure work, and noted that many major arenas have been financially unsuccessful” (TORONTO STAR, 1/30).
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