Arena open­ing about three years away

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE -

The fund­ing was an­nounced with great fan­fare in Con­cep­tion Bay South in early Septem­ber, and makes $21,470,000 avail­able to the town for the new arena.

Mayor Coombs stressed dur­ing the pub­lic coun­cil meet­ing, “that means up to that amount — it doesn’t mean we have to spend (that amount).”

The prov­ince would pro­vide 80 per cent, or about $ 15,200,000, while the town would be re­spon­si­ble for the re­main­ing 20 per cent, or roughly $3,800,000.

But that’s only if the max­i­mum amount is spent.

Coombs be­lieves an arena can be built for far less, at be­tween $12 and $15 mil­lion.

The mayor pointed out that would re­duce the town’s share to an amount it could af­ford to fi­nance.

Be­cause an arena is con­sid­ered a gen­er­a­tor of HST rev­enue, Coombs also noted the town would be el­i­gi­ble for a full HST tax re­bate at 13 per cent.

“Do I think the town is go­ing to take on a $3.8 mil­lion debt load on its own on a $21 mil­lion fa­cil­ity? No I don’t. Right now, to say the Town of Har­bour Grace is go­ing to go out and spend $21,470,000 — it’s not go­ing to hap­pen,” he said.

“We don’t need a $ 21- mil­lion fa­cil­ity. Can we af­ford less? I think so.”

Unl ike Mur­phy, Coombs be­lieves it’s time for a new arena.

“If we don’t take this new fa­cil­ity, I’m sure the old sta­dium is go­ing to fall down even­tu­ally and then it’s gone,” Coombs said.

Towns with pop­u­la­tions over 3,000 are re­spon­si­ble for 20 per cent of the cost of such fa­cil­i­ties un­der the cur­rent cost-shar­ing for­mula with the prov­ince. If the pop­u­la­tion of Har­bour Grace, which is cur­rently just barely over 3,000, were to dip un­der that mark, the town would only be re­spon­si­ble for 10 per cent of the cost.

When the re­sults of the next na­tional cen­sus comes out in 2012, Coombs said the town will be “laugh­ing”‘ if its pop­u­la­tion is be­low 3,000.

If the new arena were to end up cost­ing $15 mil­lion, he said, “at 10 per cent, that’s $ 1.5 mil­lion we’d have to come up with.

Coombs said po­ten­tial buy­ers for the cur­rent sta­dium have al­ready ex­pressed an in­ter­est.

“Say if we got three quar­ters of a mil­lion for the old place. And we got an­other $ 250,000 in the new boards, glass and any other ma­te­ri­als that could be used from the old sta­dium in the new, the town could end up hav­ing to fi­nance half a mil­lion dol­lars over 20 years or 40 years. That’s not bad. That’s con­trol­lable.”

Coombs said the town will press to have its share of the project re­duced to 10 per cent.

“We have to do a sell­ing job with gov­ern­ment,” he said.

Coombs of­fered re­as­sur­ances that the town will not reck­lessly push ahead with­out en­sur­ing the project is vi­able.

He said the prov­ince and lend­ing in­sti­tu­tions will closely an­a­lyze whether the town can af­ford its share.

“We are not al­lowed to bor­row a cent with­out gov­ernm ent ap­proval,” Coombs said.

Mean­while, the cor­ner of Har­vey Street West and Jamie’s Way is still the pre­ferred site for the pro­posed new arena, but that lo­ca­tion is not cast in stone, Coombs ex­plained.

“Govern­ment en­gi­neers would like to have three to four sites to look at as op­tions, but we don’t have a lot of sites in Har­bour Grace,” the mayor said.

He said one ob­sta­cle with the pre­ferred site is the old rail­way bed, which dis­sects the prop­erty.

“That’s some­thing we would have to deal with,” he said.

Suggest­ing the open­ing of the new arena is still about three years down the road, Coombs said, “we had to get the ball rolling.” And last week’s vote to ac­cept the fund­ing was an­other step in that di­rec­tion.

“You’re go­ing to see a new sta­dium com­ing into the re­gion in the very near fu­ture. It’s needed not only for sports, but for trade shows, con­certs … ev­ery­thing.

“We just bought the puz­zle, now we’ve got to put the pieces to­gether.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.