Early Wednesday morning, City Councillors in Markham, Ontario, a suburb of Toronto with more than 300,000 residents, voted 7-6 against a motion that would have stopped a controversial plan to subsidize a $325 million hockey arena. The vote took place after a seven hour meeting, attended by more than 500 residents, many of whom spoke out against a financial framework that calls for the city to take out a considerable loan to fully finance construction.
Despite previous denials that the ultimate purpose of such a colossal project was to attract a National Hockey League franchise to the community, Paul Kelly, the former executive director of the NHL Players’ Association, made no attempt to further the charade during his address to the council.
It is true that if you build it, they will come. This is your opportunity, citizens of Markham. If you don’t act now and keep this project moving forward, you will likely never again have the opportunity to secure an NHL team.
While a pitch of this nature is more common to direct response television advertisements than city council meetings, those who support the project point to an unprecedented cost-sharing arrangement with GTA Sports and Entertainment and its financial backer, Remington Group, which under the current proposal, would take responsibility for paying back half of the city’s $325 million loan over the next two decades. In addition, Global Spectrum, the proposed arena operator, has promised to cover the cost of any operating losses.