‘A puck in the face for taxpayers’

by Aaron Wherry

Whatever has been said about federal funding for a hypothetical arena for a hypothetical NHL team—and whatever you make of whatever has been said—the government is apparently still thinking about it.

A senior federal official confirmed that the Saskatchewan project is a “test case” that will determine how the government deals with large sports infrastructure projects, including a politically charged proposal from Quebec City. The P3 program is deemed, at this point, to be the most likely source of federal funding for stadiums and hockey arenas.

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‘A puck in the face for taxpayers’

  1. First things first. Funding Rob Ford's NFL stadium!!!

  2. "Federal Conservatives are eyeing an unspent pot of more than $1-billion from the 2008 budget as a way of funding pro-sports venues without coughing up new cash. The only problem with tapping into the P3 Canada Fund – managed by a Crown corporation and designed for projects with other governments and the private sector – is that the rules specifically forbid spending the money on facilities “primarily” used for pro sports."

    Here's a suggestion: rename the P3 Canada Fund the P3 Canada Fund/Conservative Quebec Re-Election Fund. Problem solved! Let's drop the puck and get some MPs re-elected!

  3. Harper hasn't yet learned that you can't buy Quebec votes. They will take the money as their due and continue to vote for the Bloc.

  4. Now that's creative thinking!

  5. Any votes Harper gains in PQ will be offset by votes he loses in other regions.

  6. One cannot buy QC votes but one can rent them. Harper is looking to extend his rental of the CPC's current Quebec seats and perhaps rent 1-3 more. With the right timing – i.e., just prior to the election campaign – the probability is reasonably high for the former and lowish for the later. But hey, what's a hundred million per new seat?

  7. He knows this, and recognizes that he can afford to lose a large number of votes in Alberta without losing many seats.

  8. I would guess that the federal government could announce that they will finance they entire Regina Stadium project (retractable roof version is in the 500 million range) and you ass-clowns (including Wherry) would still go on about vote buying in Quebec.

  9. Emily……

    I can't believe you wrote something that I actually agree with.

    Let Quebec buy their own damn arena's.

  10. Potash.

  11. Nah, we ass clowns (it's not hyphenated) would go on about vote buying in Saskatchewan AND Quebec.

    Keep those thoughtful, high-brow comments coming!

  12. It would be good if this Alleged-Conservative-Gov't did something Conservative and used the extra cash to pay down debt.

  13. Man, if this hypothetical arena-funding spree becomes a reality, taxpayers are going to be royally pucked.

  14. Amen, brother!

  15. That pun is totally offside.

  16. Both of you stop it NOW before it goes to a shootout.

  17. Really? It may have been blue comedy, but I didn't think it crossed the blue line .

  18. Hey apparently "we" – otherwise known as the CPC – have a billion dollars! So no worries. Plenty of cash for everyone!

    Even SK.

  19. It's not even "extra cash" really, it's a fund that's already been set up (not quite at arm's length, maybe at forearm's length?) to be managed by a crown corp called P3 Canada Inc., a little like "infrastructure banks" that they have in the States, specifically to leverage innovative public-private partnerships accross the country (for trivia buffs, it was in Budget 2007). The idea is that some projects would get contributions from the fund, but others would be 'loans' or other types of 'investments' that would be repaid allowing P3Canada Inc's operations to self-sustain over a longer period of time. This "seed funding" or "bank" model is very different from the usual model of Canadian infrastructure funds, which is to create a fund of money that has to be spent in a specific number of years (see the 7-year $8.8B Building Canada Fund, also created in Budget 2007 after the "sunset" of the previous $3B Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund)

  20. Shouldn't it be whistled down on an offside?

  21. I'll assess a two minute penalty for delay of game if anyone puts this discussion out of bounds.

  22. I'm wondering if Lockheed Martin builds arenas. It would so simplify PMSH's life if they could just be slipped a fat arena contract without a competition, call it aerospace job creation, too. Win Win Win.

    Also, PMSH, (and I know you're watching this thread) if you throw in a billion taxpayer dollars, be sure to get naming rights for the QC area and any others you use taxpayers' money to build. I'd suggest "le Colisée Conservateur" for QC and perhaps the "CPC Place" for the ROC.

  23. Gross misconduct if you ask me.

  24. "I would guess that the federal government could announce that they will finance they entire Regina Stadium project (retractable roof version is in the 500 million range) and you ass-clowns (including Wherry) would still go on about vote buying in Quebec."

    Clever strategy…until Edmonton, Ottawa, Hamilton, Halifax (and who knows how many others) show up with their hands out. What then?

  25. To be fair, though, it would be a Fifth Generation (TM) arena with stealth capabilities.

  26. Surely the good gummint of Quebec City can be terribly innovative, creative, collaborative and
    whatever to do something as thoroughly modern and smart as this …
    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/exclusi

    And we'll all live happily, eh?

  27. The Fifth Generation (TM) Ottawa Senators can now disppear completely

  28. Sadly, the Fifth Gen Sens can still be detected by their horrible stench and loud sucking sound. But, yeah, they're invisible alright.

  29. You folks do realize that Saskatchewan has had this project on the go for the past 2 years right? That they have been lobbying the feds for a 1/4 stake in the funding. That this structure will be used for more than just the Roughriders. That the feds have poured millions into Concert Halls, Art Galleries, Museums etc. that have been used by "gasp" professional artists and performers to display their talents. How much taxpayer money got tossed into the establishment of auto plants in Ontario and Quebec? How much taxpayer money was put into the expressway to Ottawa's NHL arena? I sometime wonder if the lot of you have ever looked outside house of commons to see how many structures get built by you the taxpayer.

  30. I feel sorry for Olivia MacAngus, a director with the job of running a fund to hand out money. That would be a cushy job. Now, imagine being director of a fund that is supposed to hand out money but doesn't. (That ain't workin …oops better stop)

    Now it appears that Ms. MacAngus is about to become an unemployed Liberal hack, although she did get her current uber-cushy job as a thank you for her hard work for Bev Oda. Still if she insists upon showing the integrity, backbone and reading skills to uphold that professional sports facilities are not eligible for P3 funding then I suspect her days at the Conservative feeding trough are over.

  31. A little number crunching based on the Globe article.

    Arena could be scaled back to $350M
    Quebec City has offered to pitch $50M
    Province pitches 45% = $157.5M
    Canada P3 pays for up to 25% of projects = $87.5M

    Meaning the Péladeau gap is = $55M

    I think $55M could reasonably be seen to be in teh "tens of millions" range.

  32. I agree with her too, but thumbs downed her comment just out of habit.

  33. Doubtless there's some swaggering MP that would love to deliver such a hip cheque

  34. I think he just deflected a goal into his own net.

  35. Better get your season tickets andseat selection early.

  36. P3: Péladeau's Puck Palace.

  37. Hey, don't lecture me on the "logic" behind this proposition. I would suggest that the Cons will need to put that argument before the good citizens of all the burgs in Canada who'll be screaming for equal standing with P3.

    By the way, I'm just a lowly taxpayer who doesn't live anywhere close to the places that will be screaming for cash to support their local pro sports aspirations. You seem to be suggesting that I just shut up and pay.

  38. But naked pandering is the best kind of pandering!

  39. Cow-towing to Quebecers has NEVER helped anyone in the long run………

    Just ask Mulroney.

    Alberta, BC, and Ontario need to have new seats alloted. We have to dilute the influence of the most corrupt province in Canada.

  40. Regina has a defined need for a stadium. The one that exists now is a relic in need of replacement. It’s needed infrastructure. So yes, you get to shut up an pay, as I have to shut up and pay taxes for many things that I get no benefit from.

  41. The federal government did put in $27m for BMO field in Toronto. So there's some precedence here.

    Of course that stadium was built with the promise the U20 World Cup coming to Canada, so there's a bit of a difference. Also, and I'm having difficulty finding the specifics online, but I seem to recall that there were a number of stipulations that came with the government (all 3 levels I believe) funding – something about how the stadium has to be made available for minor soccer organizations and local agencies etc etc. I would expect similar stipulations to be added to the Quebec arena.

    Personally speaking, I don't have all that big a problem with the funding…but I sure can see how people would be ticked about it.

  42. In theory, I wouldn't have a problem with the funding, either… if there wasn't an already horrible track record for professional sports venues that are supported by public dollars in North America.

  43. Many will claim Ottawa, Hamilton, and Halifax also have a "defined need for a stadium"…that's the problem the Cons are going get into with this one. Do I shut up and pay for all of them or just the one you personally think is most deserving?

  44. And the Toronto proposal had the benefit of at least being seriously considered for an actual sports franchise for the facility (if it had not in fact been granted at the time).

  45. I think the whole idea should be whistled dead as more "icing" for Quebec, and a taxpayer video review of the play should be called.

  46. Oh I agree. If there were some stipulations in place, like, say…and I'm spitballing here…that the stadium would be owned by the municipality, and not the private company that will inevitably buy the Nordiques franchise (Quebecor I assume), then I suspect it would have a better chance of not being a complete farce.

    (it's entirely possible that I'm just rationalizing here because this Habs fan wants to see them play the Nordiques again :)

  47. "How much taxpayer money was put into the expressway to Ottawa's NHL arena?" Little, if any, federally, the Senators ownership actually had to pay for the highway offramps themselves, and the Province was (and is still)building out Highway 417 west anyway, hockey rink or no.

  48. If those centers can show an infrastructure need and a fair cost-sharing plan between private, municipal, provincial and federal sources then you're damn rights the feds have a responsibility to chip in. Without public funds there would no stadiums/arenas in existence today.

  49. Yeah, well, I don't share your opinion. Too many opportunities for boondoggles (see: Toronto SkyDome).

    Anyway, it doesn't matter what either of us thinks. What matters, IMO, is how the Cons manage to buy themselves some seats in and around Quebec City without poisoning their brand in the RoC. I don't think one "counter-balancing" project in Regina is going to do it and they can't pony up for every "deserving" project and still claim to be competent fiscal managers in the face of mounting public debt.

  50. Yeah, well, considering that much youth physical activity comes from the inspiration they get from PRO SPORTS, it doesn't really matter. You apply that absurd view universally and you have NO sports infrastructure in this country. Secondly, your fear about avoiding boondoggles is completely arbitrary. All you are doing is cherry picking one specific example. And in Toronto's case you're talking about a hotel added at the last minute and a retractable roof that was a brand new technology at the time, something that inflated the cost. So Toronto's issue's don't have to be Regina's issues as retractable roof technology has matured and is affordable comparable to the late 80's.

    Any public works project can go over budget and end up becoming a boondoggle. A freakin' bridge could be a boondoggle. If your city needs a bridge should I be able to say "I'm afraid of a boondoggle, so it can't be paid with my taxes."

    See, you don't get a say, really. We're talking about needed infrastructure. The current facility is unsafe and badly needs replacing. A retrofit is not an option. So I don't really care about what other tax payers feel about the situation. My taxes go to stuff that doesn't benefit me all the time. A stadium in Regina to satisfy a proven need is the same thing as any other infrastructure program in Regina that uses federal funds.

    Saskatchewan has given up $800 million a year in equalization for a "better deal for Saskatchewan." Don't want to contribute your pennies to the Feds' $100 million bucks? Fine, then contribute your many more pennies paying Saskatchewan back the $800 million per year (plus interest) that we have lost since dropping our equalization lawsuit, plus $800 million per year onward. Enjoy.

  51. Fine…your rationale for funding pro sports facilities is equally compelling (or not) for many other pro sports facility-deprived cities in the country. Let's just stand back and watch the government pick and choose which ones are "deserving" and which ones aren't. I'd be willing to predict that, if the Cons go down that road, there will be a very odd convergence between the projects they approve and their own electoral aspirations in those same ridings.

    And the communities that don't get anointed with federal largesse will take note, as will taxpayers everywhere.

    It could get very interesting, indeed.

  52. But I'm talking about a 'proven need.' Why must the standard be that if one gets something, all get something? Why can't things be judged on their own merit? If your municipality has a private investor with the rights to a franchise in a major sports league and has a solid business plan in place, and the municipality and the province are interested in partnering, then that should be something the Feds look favorably upon. A municipality with a lot of people in and around it can't just say they want a stadium or arena just because. The reason why the stadium in Saskatchewan should go ahead is because there's private support. If said municipality doesn't have a tenant for the building, then private support disappears and the whole thing falls apart. I don't understand your doomsday scenario. These buildings are result of a defined need.

  53. Go ahead and cling to whatever criteria are most favourable to your particular pet project. I just want to see what happens if/when the government falls down this rabbit hole.

  54. High shticking.

  55. They're only invisible when they step on the ice

  56. Absolutely! We won't bow to blackmail-type threats from the UAE (they have no votes to give) no matter how much it costs us!

    But if a Conservative seat is involved . . .

  57. Pro sports teams don't play on bridges.

    And kids will only be inspired by pro sports teams playing in their neighbourhood? Really? I'm all for new arenas, if they are needed and of benefit to the people of a community. But of benefit to a pro sports team–more specifically, of benefit to Gary Bettman? Come on, now! The seats won't be any cheaper just because we've already paid for them.

  58. Ontario is a different kittil of fish though.

  59. Weren't those allegations thrown out of court?

  60. I thought they were going to name it for Rene Levesque.

  61. Very informative post, thanks!

    (I'm trying to be nicer you see :)

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