Friday, February 01, 2013

Markham arena project moves forward by slim margin

After seven hours of discussion and a meeting that involved over 500 residents, the city council in Markham, Ontario (a community north of Toronto) approved plans to move forward with a controversial 325 million dollar arena, the first step that those wishing for a second NHL team for Toronto hope brings that goal a little bit closer.

The vote split is indicative at just how controversial the GTA Sports and Entertainment project is in the community, the motion to move ahead passed by a margin of 1 in 7 / 6 split.

The proposed 20,000 seat multi-purpose arena is to be located the Highway 407 and Kennedy Road area of the community, the focal point it would seem of a proposed new downtown for the community.

The concept of if we build it, they will come, seems to be one of the guiding forces in  getting the plans developed and eventual footings in the ground, rumblings in NHL circles have it that Gary Bettman is offering up the lure of expansion fee money to his employers, the NHL Board, with Toronto's long desired second franchise apparently a tantalizing prospect.

Though Bill Daly who at times takes on the role of consigliere, was pretty quick to offer the hold onto your hats declarations on that prospect, suggesting that the NHL wasn't ready to expand, for now.

Considering the attendance figures of some of the member clubs, one has to wonder how expansion would ever fly in these teams, especially if ready to move in franchises seem to always be available for those willing to purchase.

Undaunted by the failure of the public funding concept as delivered in Glendale, Arizona, the proponents of the GTA centre of which Mayor Frank Scapitti is heading the parade, suggest that the prospects forToronto are very different situation than the one in Glendale.

The financials of the project would have the city borrow $325 million dollars which would be paid back over the course of twenty years by the Remington group, the backers of the project.

The project would offer up much of the new apparent necessities of such developments, along the lines of the LA Live complexes adjacent to the Staples Centre. Glendale also constructed a similar themed development, the only problem being that it's place on the Greater Phoenix sports map a hasn't provided for the kind attendance figures (for the hockey team at any rate) required to make the complex successful.

The folks in favour of the project in Markham are no doubt banking on the prospect that hockey fans in Greater Toronto are willing to travel a bit to watch a game.

Should the Markham project move forward and Gary Bettman turn over the deed to a new NHL franchise in the future, many feel that the dreams of Hamilton fans for their own NHL franchise would the be dashed.

Giving cause no doubt for more dislike of the neighbours to the east, something that doesn't take much to stoke at the best of times.

Toronto Star-- Markham arena to proceed with plan for public funding
Toronto Star-- Ex-Canadiens owner George Gillett noses around Markham arena deal
Toronto Star-- Markham arena risky proposition without guarantee of NHL team
National Post-- Markham's plans for NHL-ready arena live on, for now
National Post-- Markham's proposed NHL arena would come with no guarantees
Toronto Sun-- Markham council approves public funding for NHL-size arena

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