Exactly how bad is the new Calgary Flames arena deal? writes in the Field of Schemes website:
(July 26) – With all of four days of public comment period (expiring today at noon, July 26) allowed before the Calgary city council votes next week on its Flames arena plan, the media have been commenting like crazy on how it’s either terrific or godawful. Among the takes:
- Toronto Star columnist it’s “a pleasant surprise that somebody had actually decided to do something in this gloomy town,” and that despite the fact that the city will get little in the way of ticket taxes and naming-rights money, and Flames owner Murray Edwards could get a huge gift in the form of development rights to public land, it’s a good “compromise” because Calgary “badly needed a win on something, anything, after the debacle that was the bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics.” says(Ed. note: The “debacle” was that the Olympics bid didn’t happen because Calgary voters didn’t like it.)
- Edmonton Journal columnist David Staples says the new deal “appears to be far more favourable to the Flames owners than the arena proposal that broke down in 2017 and also more favourable than the deal Oilers owner Daryl Katz got in Edmonton”: He says Edmonton paid 47% of the Oilers’ arena cost, Calgary would pay 50% of the Flames’, up from 33% in the proposal from two years ago. But he admits that the “details are murky,” and ends up noting that even pro-arena Edmonton officials say it ended up being good to have a lengthy public debate on that city’s plan, though of course their side still won in the end, so they would say that.
- Calgary Herald columnist Don Braid says that the new arena is good because Taylor Swift and Paul McCartney will be more likely to play there.
- Macleans writer Jason Markusoff writes that the Flames owners “sweetened the pot” by agreeing to pay a ticket tax, but mostly city officials wanted something they could “claim victory” on: “Nenshi and the council want to remember what victory tastes like and get the public excited about something, even at the risk of getting the public furious anew. After Monday’s presentation, Nenshi gathered King and other principal players in the talks for a handshake photo op, until an aide rushed over and reminded the mayor of the optics of shaking hands on a deal that was just opened to public feedback. Oopsie.“
- Small business owners are mostly mad because the local economy sucks and they’d rather see their own business taxes reduced.
- Global News contributed a not-very-helpful listicle of costs of recent NHL arenas that didn’t include any details of how much the public paid for each, because that shit is too complicated for a listicle, man, do you know how many posts we have to write today?
So who’s right? (more)
After a closed meeting behind the backs of the people on July 22, the Calgary city council announced an outrageous pay-the-rich deal with the owners of the Calgary Flames of the NHL for a new 19,000-seat arena. It will be built on current Calgary Stampede parking lots to replace the Saddledome. Details include: Continue reading
Neil deMause, fieldofschemes.com
The premier of the Australian state of New South Wales is selling off an entire governmental department to raise money to upgrade Sydney’s sports stadiums. I am not shitting you:
Hot on the heels of the privatisation of the state’s electricity poles and wires, the Baird government is selling the operations of the Land and Property Information Service – hopefully for a 10-figure sum – to help fund its $1 billion-plus upgrade of Sydney’s sports stadiums. Continue reading
(March 10) – Calgary Flames CEO Ken King is getting ready to present the city with his plans for a new arena, and Mayor Naheed Nenshi still doesn’t want to hear about it if it involves public subsidies:
“It can’t be public dollars to subsidize private benefit. As much as we’d love to have Madonna here, I don’t think that you could convince most people that it’s a good use of public money to subsidize Madonna.”
In case you needed reminding, Naheed Nenshi is a total stadium subsidy badass.
By Neil deMause, Field of Schemes
(Feb. 9) – Plans for an NHL arena in the Toronto suburb of Markham are long since dead, but the battle over them goes on: In the latest, the former head of the Markham Village Ratepayers Association, who in 2012 filed a freedom of information request for the economic impact studies conducted by the city for the arena, and who since then has been elected to the Markham city council, is trying to pass a bill to get the full reports released. But it’s not going that well:
(Nov. 26) – The owners of the Calgary Flames haven’t been too aggressive with their hopes for a new arena, beyond occasionally griping about their old one. That all changed yesterday, though, thanks to a major package of articles in the Calgary Herald describing how:
- Flames CEO Ken King “could be within weeks of announcing their vision” for a new arena
- The arena will almost certainly require, in King’s words, “some sort of public-private” funding scheme.
- Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and the city council are vehemently opposed to giving King any cash, though some on the council may be open to providing free land.
According to the Herald, the arena talks have been going on for three years, if by “talks” you mean “the Flames owner asking for money, and city officials telling him to get lost.” More
Source: Field of Schemes
the New York Post and so probably pretty unreliable, but everyone else is writing about it so I suppose I might as well too: Wayne Gretzky is reportedly – wait, what’s that?
( July 7) – This is from
Wayne Gretzky’s agent is denying a report that the Great One is trying to bring an NHL team to Seattle…
Darren Blake, Gretzky’s agent, told The Canadian Press in an email that the 53-year-old Hall of Famer isn’t involved in any bid.
“As you can imagine prospective team owners from various franchises call frequently to gauge his interest in coming on board. Seattle is no different,” said Blake.
Oh, good, we can ignore this after all. And not just because what any prospective Seattle NHL team needs isn’t an owner, but somebody willing to build an NHL arena. How’s Gretzky with a trowel?
The University of Louisville in the American state of Kentucky turns a record $26.9m annual profit on basketball, yet the city takes $9.8m a year loss. Last season Louisville won its first title since 1986 by beating Michigan, but ever since Rick Pitino’s Cardinals moved into their publicly funded $238 million KFC Yum Center (that’s right, as in the Kentucky Fried Chicken Center) three years ago – a state-of-the-art arena resplendent with executive seating, parking and alcohol-laden concessions – they have delighted their bankers and monopoly backers just as much as their fans.
By Neil deMause
fieldofschemes.com (Nov 5, 2013) – IF YOU LIKE infographics, you’re just going to love this one from ESPN the magazine (see below). Giant blue Rick Pitino monster! Brightly coloured geometric shapes! The number “$25,800,000″ in really big type! It’s the perfect simulacrum of actual information, equally comprehensible for ages 5 to 55! Continue reading
Throughout Canada and the U.S., rich monopoly owners of professional sports franchises are demanding new arenas and stadia or “modernization” of existing venues with funds from the public treasury. This drive is part of the neo-liberal, anti-social offensive that forms the agenda of the state. Funding is often cut for parks, libraries and amateur sport facilities – under the pretext of “creating jobs” or boosterism in “public-private partnerships” – so that these P-3 facilities may be used for private gain. The following article by Neil deMause, author of the Field of Schemes and a website by the same name, examines how U.S. teams like the Phoenix Coyotes, Indiana Pacers, and Atlanta Falcons have extracted sweetheart leases that pay them millions of dollars a year in public “operating subsidies” even as their host cities slash public services and raise taxes. Continue reading