The sports radio talk shows were filled with angry fans who were mightily annoyed that the Canadiens management traded their only other bone fide NHL goaltender, Jaroslav Halak without already having Price under contract. Even the dumbest, beer-swilling, hockey moron understood that it left the Canadiens in a poor negotiating position, one where they'd have to overpay Price for his sub-par performance of last year, or be left holding air.
The same goes for a sports arena in Quebec city. It's the height of lunacy to build an arena on 'spec' without already having a deal with the NHL in the bag.
Just look what happened in Hamilton where they built the Copps Coliseum in anticipation of an NHL franchise that never came. Now the building is no longer up to NHL standards and the idea of a new building just won't fly anymore.
Could you imagine Gary Bettman's negotiating position vis-a-vis a team in Quebec City with a $400 million arena sitting virtually empty? Whatever the price of admission would be before the arena is built, it would drastically go up after.
Are the politicians that dumb?
Yessir, they are.
Along with most of reporters and the media analysts covering the story, who are unable to exercise critical judgment.
The debate over the arena, reminds me of the old story of the executioner asking the condemned man how he would prefer to die, by hanging or gunshot.
Neither I would think.....but in Quebec we are discussing the rope or the gun and nothing else.
Masterfully, Bettman has claimed to remain neutral, but not before warning anyone who will listen, that without a new arena, there'll be no chance of Quebec getting an NHL franchise. So like a dog chasing a rubber ball on a string, a new arena is in order, much to the delight of those pulling the string, Bettman and his sidekick, Pierre-Karl Péladeau. Round and round we go!
And so we watch in morbid fascination, the altogether familiar shakedown playing out before us. Like Fric and Frac, Bettman is swearing that Quebec needs a new arena and Péladeau is swearing that he's not going to invest a dime on the building.
Like two fiddlers calling the tune, Bettman and Péladeau are choreographing a reel that Quebeckers seem all to happy to dance to. A hockey team! Hooray!
Two consummate grifters, shaking down the marks, how sadly familiar!
Maybe we Quebeckers should also help out that fine Nigerian fellow who wrote us such a nice, polite letter, offering to let us in on a once in a lifetime deal!
Unfortunately, city after city, jurisdiction after jurisdiction across North America have fallen for the sports arena/stadium scam, run on them by sports leagues and robber-baron owners who take advantage of gullible politicians and eager fans.
While the team owners get a business that is guaranteed a profit, taxpayers get decades of debt.
And so Quebec City innocently believes that while others have been stung by the 'damn the consequences' pursuit of a professional franchise, they will not, even as they follow the same plan and walk the exact same path.
It would be prudent to pause and review the experience of others who have fallen for the same tired flimflam.
Sports Stadium Debt & the Taxpayer
Professional Sports: Taxpayer Parasites
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The idea of taxpayers financing and owning an arena that loses money for the benefit of a team owner that uses the facility to make money, makes sense only if you are the team owner.
I don't think I can put it simpler than that.
I wish politicians and the public would understand, it's not that hard a concept to follow.
If he doesn't assume any stadium risk, Pierre-Karl Péladeau brings nothing to the table, after all, that's what entrepreneurs are supposed to do, assume risk.
In the scenario that the politicians are pursuing, we are gifting Péladeau millions of dollars a year. Why? It is utter stupidity.
Now I'm not against Quebec City getting a new arena and an NHL franchise. Even if it costs taxpayers some money, it's probably worth it on many levels.
That being said, it's incumbent upon politicians to make sure that the price is as low as possible.
By owning the team as well as the building, profits from team operations can help subsidize the arena, instead of giving those profits away to an operator.
Up to now I haven't waded into the Nordiques/Arena/Péladeau question, because I wanted to read the famous consultants report prepared by Ernst & Young. After a hard slog through its 200 some pages, my first conclusion was, that had it been I who commissioned the said report, I'd ask for my money back.
You can read the full report by clicking on the picture or better still a read a summary of the report HERE.
|Click to Read the Report(French)|
Short on much useful information it wastes 65 pages detailing the economic benefits and spin-offs of the arena, when in reality such a project is an economic net loser and any analyst worth his salt, knows it intuitively.
It's like saying casinos brings wealth to the community, so let's build more.
Here from a study from Canada's own Fraser Institute is the painful truth.
“No matter what cities or geographical areas are examined, no matter what estimators are used, no matter what model specifications are used, and no matter what variables are used, articles published in peer-reviewed economics journals contain almost no evidence that professional sports franchises and facilities have a measurable economic impact on the economy....”
Read : Subsidizing arenas means putting taxpayers in hock for decades, with zero benefit to the economy
When I read the part that listed the Maritimes as an important secondary market, I almost fell out of my chair laughing. If the consultants can imagine someone driving up from Charlottetown or Halifax to take in a Nordiques game on a regular basis, they are more creative than I thought.
The only thing of interest in the 204 page report, is the one solitary paragraph at the conclusion that says the arena can break even on operations, but cannot pay the mortgage on the $400 building cost, nor can it pay another $4.5 million in annual upkeep.
So there it is.
The annual cost to the taxpayer is about $20-$25 million dollars per year, based on a mortgage of 40 years at current rates, which includes the cost of upkeep.
That's the number that nobody is talking about. Nobody at all.
Not really, it comes out to less than $7 per Quebec taxpayer per year.
But instead of demanding that taxpayers foot this annual bill, perhaps somebody should be working on a business model that would reduce this $20-$25 million 'nut' to almost nothing.......
By owning the team and making some smart business moves, the new Colisée, owner of the Nordiques can cost the taxpayers nothing, or next to it. It can be done and I'll show you how.
Tomorrow: Quebec Nordiques & The New Colisée Can be Successful.