Find us a replacement Cash Cow!

Who’s kidding who?

Daryl Katz has said that the tax base would provide revenue from the new Edmonton Arena into “perpetuity”.

Let’s go south, way south, and ask  Glendale, AZ  if they could do it all over again would they have taken ownership of the arena that has the bondholders holding them hostage? And, I know you are sick of this question, but we are going to keep asking it until we get an answer – – who the heck are the arena bondholders at

The financing for the Edmonton Arena District is also a big question. The mayor wants to approve it, but has he and council been given enough details to make a real decision? To look at the opportunity and true costs? To consider how this affects their model for City growth?

Who the heck do these boys from the NHL think they are coming into town like gangsters looking for “protection money” and holding the Oilers fans hostage? The city is obviously hockey mad. And to add to the experience, the Rexall arena is apparently a great cozy place to take in the game.

If you want to compare a similar mistake, head over to the ACC in Toronto and compare the feeling you got at  Maple Leaf Gardens of old to the new, improved giant. Memories and Dreams has been replaced by, “wow, we are way up here aren’t we?”

But, despite it all, the Rexall Place lease is up in 2014, and they will not be renewing their lease. They will simply not be playing there, according to Gary Bettman. It’s too small potatoes for the vision of greatness and those confusing “revenue streams” that are so important. The big question remains who gets the biggest revenue streams? And, is the stream of cash going offshore?

For the 2009/10 season average attendance at Rexall was 16,839. With capacity at 17,100, we are close to filling the place, but not overburdened at Rexall. Gary Bettman sees it a problem that true hockey fans represent 60% of attendance – – individuals that is. I say where’s the problem? Hockey is for individuals. The Coyotes under the Gretzky Project could not find businesses to buy into the corporate game, and that was the telltale kiss of death. If there were enough individuals in love with hockey in Phoenix it might stand a chance.

How is it perceived that Edmonton will find more fans to pay even more than they are now?

Both the fans and residents will no doubt be paying large to fund the new digs.

There are examples of taxpayer nightmares all over the NHL wasteland, and the road show has now been taken north because the roadkill of the south is starting to stink in the heat.

In Columbus, the owners followed the lead of the NHL and built the private boxes and the new arena, and they still lost money. The answer from the NHL we will learn below, was to tap into the community as a whole.

Is it all about the big money surrounding financing?

Why pressure Edmonton now?

It’s easy to see the lure to exploit a city making some money, and where people have some pretty good jobs.

It’s time to take Alberta’s current economic boom and dip into the trough of dough of the City of Edmonton. But it should be understood they are a little tight, and in debt themselves. The City’s  AAA rating hasn’t been ravaged by the aggressive aspirations that ruined the City of Glendale. We all know they are now one of the most debt-burdened cities in the entire U.S.

Edmonton would be wise to ensure they don’t go down that road on promises backed by hot air.

Unfortunately we have seen that once the city takes on the gamble, the fiasco in the desert of Arizona has proven that the finance pitbulls aren’t going to release the death grip. They will call the shots, and the municipality and the league will have to react and keep them happy. Common sense and what is good for the game will not be at the control of those supposedly in charge of bringing a game for the benefit of the fans. Options, options and more options!

What else could be behind Bettman and the NHL dragging their heels and bending over backwards for a team that by merit needs to relocate?

Is it those pesky financiers of the arena? Yeah, it’s got to be a rhetorical question, n’est-ce pas?

Important here is the  capacity of Edmonton to weather the storm of a potential similar mistake. Where do they stand financially going into this  critical, and ill-informed decision ?:

The City is projecting that the tax-supported debt burden grew by 60% in 2009 to $878 million, or $1,123 per capita, with ongoing capital projects pushing the burden to roughly $1,800 per capita by the end of 2011. Although this represents a significant increase and further squeezes the budget due to debt servicing requirements, DBRS views the burden as potentially manageable provided the City continues to exhibit fiscal discipline. However, Edmonton will have consumed most of its room to manoeuvre within the current rating category. Beyond 2011, the outlook for capital spending and debt is less certain. DBRS notes that any material increase beyond the current tax-supported debt forecast would likely apply notable downward pressure to the rating.

A decent credit rating and some room for more debt makes them a target for abuse.

Who are the real investors and bondholders and developers behind this mega project? Will they be hidden from public view and scrutiny as in the case in Glendale, AZ?

It’s my ball, and if you don’t play my way, I’m taking my ball home

Or, as Darcy Olsen would say, Gary Bettman is playing hide the ball.

I must apologize to Darcy Olsen of the Goldwater Institute, I didn’t realize she was a lady, and a sharp cookie at that!

She can be seen here discussing the issues of the Constitution with Judge Andrew Napolitano. I think Gary Bettman must wonder how the whole country wasn’t in on the taxpayer tapping party, and the Constitution it would seem is a roadblock, at least in Phoenix, to the sports leagues ability to squeeze the taxpayers more:

It’s almost too much research to do, but we don’t have to dig hard to scratch the evidence even at the surface.

When Ross Perot Jr. and Tom Hicks took on the Victory Park Project in Dallas, it wasn’t long before their vision of world-class venues and offices, and apartments went caflooey.

How about Columbus and their “arena district”. How have they done? Gone “world class?” Well:

Priest said he met with National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly more than a year ago and presented the team’s business plan, wondering how, despite decent ticket sales and corporate sponsorships, the team was still losing so much money. The league’s response: The team isn’t making as much money off the arena as other clubs.

It’s all about taxation folks. Quick, simple. Hockey doesn’t make money without taxing residents of a city. Is the verdict in that it brings in more than it takes away?

Perot and Hicks’ Victory Park – promises, promises

Read up on Dallas’ Victory Park and make your own decision. The game seems to be the same. Someone somewhere is making money, but it is not because the developments have been successful.

And why should they be when the coercion cart was put before the development horse?

The people making decisions were not experts in land use planning, but sales agents for sports leagues, and the NHL seems to be a driver. The real money is holding the debt that is backed by the city’s taxpayers.

Tom Hicks is losing or lost most sports teams so why is he still on the finance audit committee and Vice Chairman of the NHL ?

Where’s the real set of books when teams from all over are charging less for a nosebleed seat than most people can see a movie for?

A team is only “unsustainable” for as long as it takes to get them to build an arena.

And we haven’t gotten to the title of this article yet. Show me the new money.

How much you want to bet that Winnipeg sees hockey only if Edmonton builds the arena district? Otherwise, the NHL will “exercise” other options. And those options will include putting the Coyotes in a place where sooner or later an arena district will be needed.

Winnipeg, you made a mistake in having an arena all ready for the team.

The options the NHL is considering may have more to do with finding the replacement cash cow for a bunch of rich dudes in a place where sand is everywhere.

If Edmonton isn’t Glendale’s replacement opportunity for taxpayer- related revenue streams for those mystery financiers, then they may yet again shun Canada.

If you build it they will come. If you sold your league out to greedy financiers you may have to build it whether they come or not. And then, you will start looking stupid by all the excuses you have to make.

You might really get agitated when a group like the Goldwater Institute rains on the parade, and throws the plan off-course. And worse, it may expose the game surrounding the game.

If Edmonton doesn’t pay the price, the fans of Winnipeg may pay a price too.

In a league where it’s a new arena and development “or else”, the pure enjoyment of the sport is lost. And in the case of hockey for Canadians, it really is a shame, eh?


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