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Kingston Concerned About the LVEC
Currently known as the "KROCK Centre"
Formerly the "Kingston Regional Sports and Entertainment Centre" or KRSEC
Formerly the "Large Venue Entertainment Centre" or LVEC
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Any Guarantee The Frontenacs Will Stay?

No answer to this question is available, as the lease is locked up in the Mayor's office, and is one of the documents deemed "confidential".

It is a question Kingstonians had better pay close attention to, however.

It is strongly recommended that you read one or more of the following articles, available to you by means of an internal link on this website:

"The sports stadium scam: What is seen and what is not seen"

"We Wuz Robbed!: The Subsidized Stadium Scam"

"Take Me Out to the Corporate Welfare Scam"

Over the past decade, across North America, the following scenario has unfolded over and over again: a local sports franchise approaches its political leadership with the proposition that the city, by means of taxes, or by persuasion of wealthy philanthropists, or by a combination of taxes, private participation, and philanthropy, construct them a new stadium, or arena.

The franchise owners, of course, offer not a dime of their own money, despite the fact that the main financial beneficiaries of the construction of the new facility would be the owners themselves, and despite the fact that the owners are already wealthy on the strength of the take from operations at the existing venue.

The sad alternative to the city's refusal of this request, they intimate,  might (sob) have to be that the franchise will find some other, more generous and appreciative city, which will pony up the cash for a new arena.

Sound familiar?

Cities that allow themselves to be suckered by this ploy often (in fact, usually) find themselves holding the bag for far more of the construction, and even operating, costs of the new facility than they had originally bargained for. See Experience of other cities with LVECs.

It has even happened that the franchise walks out on the city, even after it has complied and built the new arena. This is not just boogey-man rhetoric: it actually happened this summer, twice, in Canadian cities. The city of Toronto anted up $9 million in refurbishing costs, and another $20 million in loan guarantees, for the Ricoh Coliseum for the Roadrunners, who subsequently went bankrupt, leaving the city holding the bag. (Toronto Star, July 28, 2004) Next up was Newfoundland, whose provincial and St. John's municipal governments sank $40 million in an arena in exchange for a lousy 5-year lease with the "Baby Maple Leafs". (St John's Telegram, August 13, 2004, p.A6) The lease ran out, and the Leafs pulled their farm team home to the Ricoh Coliseum (for, incidentally, a 20-year lease: some people learn from others' mistakes), leaving St John's high and dry with a new stadium, and very little to fill it with. Kingston's mayor, you may recall, was recently panting after the opportunity to help the Leafs screw St. John's (better be careful: what goes around comes around).

Very rarely, a different pattern is seen: the owners of the Sudbury Wolves built their own arena fairly recently, and are now profiting from having done so. (Sudbury Star, June 19, 2003)

In a city with the chronic homelessness that Kingston is experiencing, along with deterioration of roads, inadequacy of sewage operation, and above all, diminishing access to basic health care, it seems obscene for city government to be fixated on supplying  millionaire hockey franchise owners with a new home for their team, especially when it involves turning the established patterns of city life upside down to do it: buy polluted land! sell off the biggest recreational centre in the city! build thousands of pricey housing units in the absence of any demonstrated market demand! divert the taxes on those homes to the new arena! play a shell game that adds the old Memorial Centre annual deficit to the "revenue"  of the new LVEC! Do anything, just anything, no matter how absurd, but GET THAT NEW ARENA FOR THE FRONTS!

Perhaps it would be a better gesture of stewardship on City Council's part to suggest to the Frontenacs' owners that if they want a new arena, they raise the money for it themselves.

Failing that, the people of Kingston had better get ready to DEMAND that the City reveal the terms of the Frontenacs' lease on a new LVEC (wherever it is built), and raise the roof if there is no guarantee of a long-term commitment to the city in it.

 

Last updated 30.9.2004