The NHL: The common denominator in City Development

Did you know the NHL is also great at Urban Development? And we thought the problem was unique to Glendale. How silly of us!

Are there more opportunities to tap into tax dollars that have investors and owners thinking outside the box?

Oopsie! The U.S. is suffering. They’ve done all the damage they can down south, so it’s time to take the roadshow north to Canada! Rumour has it there is a good economy and plenty of tax dollars, especially in Alberta.

Doesn’t it seem a little odd that the Mayor of Edmonton, Stephen Mandel feels held hostage by a sports league trying to dictate how the development of the city will come off? At least in Glendale, you had a Mayor in Elaine Scruggs that bought the plan hook, line and sinker, and “sink” is the operative word at this point. She sold her taxpaying residents down the river.

When we studied the Phoenix Coyotes case we uncovered the City of Glendale’s desire to use the Coyotes to build their tax base, and develop their economy. We knew about the Westgate Arena Development but thought it unique. We even overlooked the link in Dallas, and the white elephant project that was more to do about urban planning, than just to bring in a good sized arena for the Stars.

It was only when we started to see the issue move north into our Canadian turf that the bell went off, and we are discovering who the common denominator of urban planning really is.

So, it’s time to work a little. Who are the private investors ready to build the Edmonton Arena District? Sounds way too familiar, doesn’t it?

We will be looking into the link between taxpayer funded sports, area development and the strange link a hockey league has to building infrastructure in not only America, it is now affecting  Canada.

We will likely all need to heed the words of David Zirin, of Edge of Sports, to find out how bad owners are ruining the sport, and interestingly fitting here is how to tap the taxpayers dry with pricey development financing. Will Edmonton go the way of the Dodo bird, as Dallas and Glendale did? Canada is not as populated as these areas, so the tax  base is smaller. Yikes!

How will the financing be obtained for the infrastructure of the Edmonton Arena District? In the video below of Daryl Katz, substitute Elaine Scruggs of Glendale and an eery picture starts to form.

What about the white elephant of Dallas? Was that all about development of many varieties all stemming from the hockey league too? The Victory Park Project was anything but a victory. Did Tom Hicks hold favour with the NHL when he was supported as he ran into financial trouble, while Moyes was left with proxy in hand because of the ties to land? Because, if land development was the goal, Hicks had it down:

Hicks Holdings is a partner with Hillwood Development Company in the Victory Park project in downtown Dallas.  Hicks Holdings is a developer of a 75-acre urban town center /multi-use development on the land adjacent to the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington; and of Champions Park, a 40-acre office/retail development in Frisco

Is the NHL now trying frantically to help the bond issue in Glendale to preserve the development pie? If this is remotely true, how would the conflict of interest have shaped the handling of Jerry Moyes?

Yeah, every situation is different alright. It may vary by who is working the development, and who are the underlying investors. What remains the same is the taxpayers getting the raw end of the deal. And in Canada, what better way to hit the heart strings than wave the hockey carrot. Those Canucks will pay anything to get hockey, muhahahaha! Front man, coming up!

If a hockey league needed to keep investors happy (how’s it going Mubadala and Goldman Sachs?), then would the need for Glendale to keep a hockey team be substituted with a different opportunity – – maybe where the economy is better, and hockey is actually popular?

Would the investors  be calling the shots behind the scenes, and the residents and taxpayers  held hostage? And why should all taxpayers pay for a sport if they aren’t interested? More importantly, why should sports owners reap profits to entire “districts” of development? What happened to the business of hockey alone?

When Gary Bettman eluded to the bankers building arenas in his interview with Ron McLean on HNIC, we might look upon the dialogue a little differently depending on the underlying circumstances.

Could Edmonton be the “replacement opportunity” as Glendale fades away? Interesting possibilities, eh?

Would this explain why a land developer, Vieste LLC, the NHL head office, and the City of Glendale all wanted to see the article on Moyes being the victim of a squeeze play – -Vieste and the NHL, totally unconnected right?

And, try not to freak out when you think of Scruggs in her speech that the hockey district would create a world class area to help the City of Glendale, when you watch the similarity to Katz and his talking points. But, whatever you do, don’t envision  Katz in a skirt.

But think of the common denominator and the possibilities.

How does a hockey league continue to be involved in area land development that extends beyond hockey? And, would that explain why they would not want to move a franchise like the Coyotes at all cost – – because they have gotten involved in development of land, not just sticking to hockey? And for God’s sake, don’t do a google search like this! It might just get you mad thinking back on the McLean – Bettman interview that might mean the reason was income from development as  the real issue Winnipeg and Quebec City were shunned!

It would make Bryden’s exit ramp pale in comparison to the money attached to not just arena development but urban development. Sales tax related funding coupled with property tax and income tax funding would effectively put pressure on already debt ridden Canadians that cannot afford the current cash flow crisis. The theme is a common one : The few rich making tons of money off the sweat of the many (taxpayers).

It has the Mayor of Edmonton concerned, just as the Mayor of New York wasn’t going to go for the big idea of Related Companies. He had sense, thank goodness.

Since when has Daryl Katz been a sales agent for land use causes? Starting to stink again, and this time it’s personal. Is Katz the next Tom Hicks? When you buy an NHL franchise you become a “partner” in the club. Not a consortium Mr. (Ron) McLean, remember Gary said it was a “partnership”, and the partners get to decide who joins the club, and where arenas get built.

I suppose the partners in Toronto didn’t want land developed by the outsider, Mr. (Jim) Balsillie. There might be a second set of books that Jimmy B. would be too honest to go for.

Would it explain why a new Commissioner wouldn’t be on the table at regular intervals? Imagine the conversation:  “Okay new Commish, this is how the owners and investors make extra money – – they build mega projects at the expense of the taxpayers, and so your job is to make sure you keep track of all these investors and deals, ’cause we gotta keep ’em all happy. What? Yeah, the hockey operations are an excuse to get at the real bucks, so what’s your point?”

Or, it could also explain why a guy like Balsillie would not be a good fit. “He actually cares about the fans!! Get him outta here. It’s not about the fans, it’s about taxation and profit taking. The partners allowed in this group have got to be well-picked, seasoned, and must know the real score”.

As Dave Zirin points out, the long term good of the game is sacrificed by owners’ greed.

Yes, what if it’s  all about land development beyond Phoenix – – extending to everywhere? It might suggest that “free financing” was not the goal, but expensive financing might be. You know, the sales tax financing like in Glendale —  the “gift” that keeps on giving!


One response to “The NHL: The common denominator in City Development

  1. Pingback: Bettman doesn’t just have Calgary in his sights: Arizona hasn’t paid off Glendale yet, and he wants a new arena built there too (with taxpayers footing the bill, of course) | Make it Eight, eh? Hockey again for Winnipeg!

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