Sports team owners looking for public money trying to exploit fan passions
The uber wealthy owners of the Calgary Flames want the people of Calgary to subsidize the Flames’ new hockey arena with tax dollars.
We now know more details about how they have been trying for some time to pry public money from city hall to help pay for that new arena.
Last week, they tried to make Calgary Mayor Naheed Neshi a political hostage in these negotiations during his ongoing re-election campaign.
By announcing they were no longer going to build an arena one month before the next municipal election, they made themselves and their position a campaign issue.
My advice to Calgary voters is to not pay one cent of taxpayers’ money for a new arena. Support the mayor who is working hard to protect you and your money.
Send a message that your love of your city and community, and the responsible spending of your tax dollars, are more important than making rich people richer.
Rich people should be investing in their cities and communities. Cities should not be investing in the sporting aspirations of rich people.
I love hockey. I love going to watch professional hockey games. I have a deep emotional attachment to the sports teams I love. I understand the passion Calgarians have for their beloved Flames.
But it is exactly this passion and emotion that the multimillionaire owners of the Flames are looking to exploit politically, to negotiate more of the city’s tax dollars for their plans.
It is important to put aside temporarily the emotion you have for the team and think rationally about the current owners of that team and their motives.
First off, the Calgary Flames are not moving to another city. The Flames sold 767,829 tickets last season to rank 10th of 30 teams in the National Hockey League in attendance.
The league won’t allow one of the best teams in the league to move, when there are teams like Carolina or Arizona who are struggling.
It also will not allow the Flames to move when it can get over $500 million in new franchise fees for a new team, as it did this year from Las Vegas.
This is not a sports story. It’s a business and politics story.
Professional sports teams do not look at what is best for the broader public interest, but at what is best for their interests.
We like to think professional sports teams are all about winning championships. We like to identify the success of our sports teams with our pride for our communities.
But at the end of the day, professional sports teams are about making money, with the goal to make as much as possible.
Recently, we learned Scotiabank will pay Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment $800 million to have the naming rights to the hockey arena in downtown Toronto.
If the Leafs can get $800 million for naming rights, what will the Flames get for a new arena?
In 2013, Rogers Communications signed a 12-year, $5.2-billion multi-media rights deal with the NHL.
According to statista.com in the 2015/16 season, the total league revenue of the NHL was US $4.1 billion.
In 2016, the average NHL franchise was valued at US $517 million, a significant increase from US $282 million in 2012.
Calgary will not lose its hockey team.
The mayor needs Calgarians’ support to send a message that while the Flames are welcome to build a new arena, it should be done with private money and not on the backs of taxpayers.
On Sept. 14, Lt.-Gen. St-Amand, Deputy Commander of NORAD told Parliamentarians that his American colleagues have been whispering in his ear that the United States policy “is not to defend Canada,” in case of a missile attack.
Perhaps the good General can loan his colleagues at NORAD Headquarters, Colorado Springs a copy of Article 5 of the NATO Agreement which deals with “collective defence.” It states:
“The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.” http://www.nato.int/cps/ en/natohq/topics_110496. htm
The General should suggest that his colleagues re-read this chapter, and while doing so, he may wish to remind them that the last time it was invoked was on September 11, 2001. HONOURABLE COLIN