Google
Kingston Concerned About 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
Home   News   Comments
The KCAL News Feed -- February 2008
Click here to view the latest news items

Use this URL for your news reader: http://lvec.ca/KCalNewsAndArticles.XML (xml)

February 26, 2008

Observations from a long-time season ticket holder

A long-time season-ticket holder chimes-in:

I have been to 2 hockey games so far and yes the arena is nice a new but there sure are some issues.

The notion of the public choosing the seat type (a link back to January 2007) was pure BS. They went with the cheapest narrowest seating they could find. They are not that comfortable and a couple of large lads I know say the seat sags forward thus making them slip forward. It is very cramped sitting next to anyone plus there is absolutely no leg room, even for the vertically challenged.

The club seats are chained-off. That means the club seat people do not have egress or access to and from the tunnels. The people sitting below have to use the tunnels and cannot go up to the top of the stairs. I sure hope there isn't a fire, when I worked in my manufacturing days this type off blockage would be condemned by the ministry of labour. I guess paying citizens are expendable

Also you cannot get from one side of the arena to the other so forget about socializing with your friends on the other side of the building.

Rapport with the team: We used to be able to talk to the Frontenac players before and after the game as they were accessible, now they are hidden away, I haven't the foggiest idea on how to make contact with them.

Policing: Who is paying for this? I have seen more police inside that building in 2 days then I have seen in the last 15 years in the old M-Centre, plus there are a whole bunch of them outside before and after the game.

Yes there are some good things about the arena but right now the place is sterile, there is no"our" feel to it. The atmosphere is not there. There was absolutely no fan energy in that place Sunday it was DEAD in there. But hey we have a nice shiny new building where we can coif beers back for only $6 for a 20 oz draft.

Seat selection: I loved my seat so much that I was running around opening night to find out how to change it. It was a horror show for me. I am in the process of doing it now. I'm not the only one there are many people not satisfied with their seating, so much so there was a line up at the old Frontenacs office on Monday morning. This is what you get when you pick blind like all the season ticket holders did.

Published: 02/26/08 11:24:45 PM
Permanent link to this item

February 25, 2008

Bruce Todd's report from Friday night's LVEC-opening Frontenacs game

This letter is from Bruce Todd about the LVEC's opening-night hockey game on February 22 2008.

From: Bruce Todd

To: KCAL@yahoogroups.com

CC: PNichols@cityofkingston.ca, "Morris, Malcolm", "Laubenstein, Glen", "Hurdle, Lanie", Deanna Green, Chris Sleeth, Councillor M Gerretsen, Councillor B Glover, Councillor D Hector, Councillor R Hutchison, Councillor J MacLeod-Kane, Councillor R Matheson, Councillor L Osanic, Councillor S Meers, Councillor E Smith, Mayor H Rosen, Councillor L Foster, Councillor S Garrison, Councillor V Schmolka, "Beach, Cynthia"

Subject: February 22 LVEC observations

Date: 25 February 2008, 02:04:30


I went downtown around 5:30 p.m. last Friday night and observed the downtown before and after the OHL game that drew a crowd of 5,700. There were opening ceremonies at 6:00 p.m. and people were lined up along Barrack Street from the entrance westerly to the Food Basics parking lot. Signs were erected at public parking lots indicating the LVEC parking rates came into force at 5:30 p.m. I asked the Anglin Lot parking attendant how they were handling those cars/people who were still parked in the lot from prior to 5:30 p.m. They said that they didn't know. I assume there is some lost revenue here.

On-street parking was fully utilized at 6:00 p.m., although there were a few cars that pulled away, leaving the parking spot to be quickly taken again. I am sure there had to be an economically detrimental effect on other downtown businesses whose customers could not find on-street parking.

I noticed a lot of "illegal" on-street parking in signed no-parking zones. I understand from others that tow trucks were kept busy. I witnessed a tow from the Tim Horton's parking lot on Ontario Street around 6:30 p.m.

Many people took advantage of the on-street parking through the residential area north of Barrack Street and west of Rideau Street. In fact, cars were parked on both sides of Bay Street west of Rideau Street, and therefore there was not enough room for opposing vehicles to pass each other. Vehicles had to back up out of Bay Street onto Rideau Street in order to continue their journey, and I held my breath as many cars backed out into the very busy intersection of Rideau and Bay. Fortunately, the snow banks had been cleared from many of these streets.

Traffic was tied up on Barrack Street at the entrance to the Liquor Store as the store's parking lot could not handle the inbound flow of traffic, so people sat on the street with their turn signals blinking, and through traffic was blocked in both directions. I am assuming that this situation occurred because there was no on-street parking available, and Liquor Store patrons were not going to pull into a public parking lot and pay a hefty parking fee.

I assumed that most people who were going to the game would be parked by 7:00 p.m. because of the opening ceremonies at 6:00 p.m. So, at 6:55 p.m., I checked out the parking at the Hanson Garage. There were approximately 175 vehicles in the garage, about 100 more than normal according to the attendant. One gentleman said he had been parked in the garage since 2:00 p.m., and was told that if he waited until just after 10:30 p.m. to leave, it would only cost him $3.00 for all that time, as the attendant would have left at 10:30 p.m. More parking revenue losses.

I then checked the Chown Garage at 7:00 p.m. and found that there were only about 80 vehicles parked in the garage, which is normal at that time. Therefore, virtually no one chose to park at the Chown Garage and walk to the LVEC, as I have said all along.

I parked at the corner of Place D'Armes and Wellington Street at 9:45 p.m. to witness the movement of people leaving the LVEC and proceeding northerly and westerly. People who were headed for the Anglin Parking Lot crossed Place D'Armes in the general vicinity of King Street and the Food Basics parking lot entrance, just as I indicated they would do in my report to the city and to IBI consultants. Any people who came up to the Wellington Street traffic signal were headed for Rideau Street and points northerly and westerly, and many of these people sauntered across the length of Place D'Armes, interfering with westbound traffic that had come from the Causeway.

I observed one motor vehicle accident at the corner of Bagot and Brock Street. Judging from the front-end damage, it looked like at least one of the vehicles was a writeoff.

The City and the event-goers were fortunate that there was enough time to clear snowbanks from streets, and that it was a relatively mild evening.

I was very surprised at the attendance of 2,283 people at the Sunday OHL game, virtually no increase from previous years. I had thought perhaps 3,000 to 3,500 people would be in attendance. Let the speculation begin!

Bruce.

Published: 02/25/08 03:11:10 PM
Permanent link to this item

February 24, 2008

Sunday Frontenacs attendance: 2283 (updated)

According to the OHL game summary, Sunday afternoon's Frontenacs LVEC attendance, their second match in the LVEC, was just 2,283. That's only 130 more than the average of the previous games played at the Memorial Centre this year.

It probably didn't help that Doug Graham, Whig Standard sports reporter, wrote on Friday that the second match was a sellout (scroll to the very botton).

Update: Some interesting comments on Fronts talk

Friday night had a lot of people that are not hockey fans that were there for the hype and to say they were there. That is a one time crowd.

Also, on the changing dynamic for the Frontenacs' owners:

I am to one point ecstatic that the Fronts have the new arena. NOW THEY CANNOT BLAME facilities for the lack of fans or the players that say they don't want to come here.

Published: 02/24/08 10:14:42 PM
Permanent link to this item

February 22, 2008

Who's lording over you now?

In March 2007, nearly a year ago, the LVEC's luxury suites were sold-off. Here's another look at who'll be lording over the regular folks.

It's a who's-who of Rosen-family businesses, tenants of Rosen Family properties, overt Harvey Rosen election backers, companies that do a lot of business with City Hall (including several members of the Kingston Home Builders Association and the Kingston Construction Association), and the usual mainstream media outfits.

Frontenac Public School As you gaze-up at the luxury suites, try not to think of the rest of Kingston like, for example, Frontenac Public School on Cowdy Street, with some 275 kids JK to Grade 8, just 0.8 miles from the LVEC, that doesn't have a school library and needs funding and more support in all its aspects.

Each one of those luxury suites cost between $15,000 and $23,000 per year, and their occupants will be hob-nobbing, at tax-deductible expense, in a taxpayer-subsidized OHL arena built on pretenses of "economic development".

All these folks will be hob-nobbing together in suites largely paid-for with tax-deductible expenses, with special parking, a private entrance, private concessions, and priority access to non-box event tickets whose leftovers will then be sold to the general public. More here on the LVEC's perks for the those in this class.

Note that John Wright, owner of K-Rock, apparently controls three suites.

1000 Islands Cruises (Same owners as K-Rock)
1203157 Ontario Limited
J.E. Agnew Food Services Ltd. (Tim Hortons)
Braebury Homes Corporation
Canadian Tire - Cataraqui
CHUM Radio Kingston (FLY-FM)
CIBC Wood Gundy
Cruickshank Construction Limited and Rosen Heating Cooling
Empire Life Insurance Company
Gananoque Chevrolet Cadillac
JKL Micro
Kingston Financial Centre Inc.
Kingston MRI
Kimco Steel Sales Limited (owned in the Rosen family) and Kingston Truck Centre
The Kingston Frontenacs (owned by the Springer family)
The Kingston Whig-Standard
Kingston Young Entrepreneurs
KPMG LLP
K-Rock (Complimentary suite for naming rights holder)
Len Corcoran Excavating Ltd.
Melo Hotels
RBC WAGG
CaraCo Development Corporation and Taggart Investments
The Radio Group (K-Rock & KIX FM)
Thomson Jemmett Vogelzang o/b The Insurance Centre Inc.
Waste Management

Published: 02/22/08 11:17:28 AM
Permanent link to this item

February 21, 2008

Kingston and District Labour Council media release
Thumb

Here's the Kingston and District Labour Council Media Release from yesterday.

(KINGSTON) The Kingston & District will hold a media conference on the steps of the new arena prior to its official opening to discuss problems with the arena operator and to support picketing workers. The media conference will include a number of speakers on hand to support local workers, members of International Alliance of Theatre and Stage Employees (IATSE), Local 471 who will not get a chance to bid or work locally on events in the building.

WHAT: Press Conference and speakers.
WHEN: Friday February 22 at 11:00 A.M.
WHERE: Outside the main entrance to the entertainment centre.

Read the whole thing.
Published: 02/21/08 10:01:00 PM
Permanent link to this item
Bogus artificial deadlines: obvious tactical mistakes made 14-months ago

While the LVEC project is today in pre-opening confusion and doubt, 14-months ago, back in December 2006, KCAL wrote this:

So we have a City staff who clearly can't manage projects -- KPMG told us that twice (1-2) -- and a Council that's clearly not into overseeing incompetent Staff.

These projects have multi-million-dollar stakes.

Mark Gerretsen, thank you very much.

What's unsaid in recent LVEC discussions is the agreement between the City of Kingston and the Kingston Frontenacs is not silent about a delay in the LVEC's opening.

Translation: As far as obligations to the Frontenacs are concerned, the project can slide. That's covered. In short, the current agreement for the Frontenacs to play at the Memorial Centre is extended. End of story.

Question: why hasn't this option to moderate the pace of the project been presented to the new Council? Under current circumstances, explain why the blind following of artificial imagined "timelines" because of arbitrary and arguably bogus "deadlines" is a good idea. Why wasn't a single project timeline or Gantt chart presented to Council on Monday night?

Recommendation: that staff proceed with extreme caution, and advise council, prior to considering any bookings for the LVEC.

On current trends, it would be par for the course if staff were to let the operator book the LVEC for December 2007 ASAP, thus further tieing the hands of City Council.

The thinking at the time was: don't book the LVEC prematurely because it limits your options, and that can be expensive.

bulldog.  We didn't get one

How much would a bulldog have cost since April 2007?

Maybe $150,000?

We could have been reading project progress reports from the bulldog, not the pap we've been reading from Lanie Hurdle ever since.

Today a lot of money is being squandered, corners are being cut, work is being rushed, all because our City Hall civil servants know little about managing quality projects.

Who could have prevented this?

Our current gutless Council balked at the opportunity for independent project oversight. Council had the chance to appoint a Council advocate to the project cabinet but Mark Gerretsen, BIA board member, withdrew his long-delayed motion in April 2007.

So we have a City staff who clearly can't manage projects -- KPMG told us that twice (1-2) -- and a Council that's clearly not into overseeing incompetent Staff. These projects have multi-million-dollar stakes. Mark Gerretsen, thank you very much.

How much would a bulldog have cost since April 2007? $150,000 maybe? We could have been reading project progress reports from the bulldog, not the pap we've been reading from Lanie Hurdle since then.

Published: 02/21/08 02:58:53 PM
Permanent link to this item

February 20, 2008

Bruce Todd slams City Hall for deceptive advertising

I have repeatedly surveyed the parking situation in the downtown on a Friday evening around 6:30 to 7:00 p.m., as Consultants should have done for their reports to the City, and, consistently, the on-street parking has been fully utilized except for 30 to 50 spots, and parking lots have been half full or more at that time.

I have reported this on many occasions to the city and to LVEC management, but all reports have been consistently ignored.

Bruce Todd has penned a scathing letter to Council and Senior Staff, copies to The Whig, about apparently deceptive communications from The City of Kingston Growth and Sustainability Group and published in The Whig.

Read the whole thing. City of Communications Dept, chain of command during the LVEC's inception and implementation

Therein:

The special section produced by the Kingston Whig Standard last Friday, February 15, 2008, entitled "It's Show Time" included on page 10 an article on "Ample Parking Available for Event Goers". It paints a picture of parking availability as if no cars are ever on-street or in parking lots on a Friday evening. It gives a detailed number of parking spaces as if these are all waiting to be used by LVEC event-goers. What a deception! What an utter falsehood for those who might not be familiar with Kingston's downtown on a Friday evening in particular.

The article states that "more than 550 on-street parking spaces are located within 600m of the Centre and will be free for use during evening and Sunday events".

To state that all these parking spaces are "free for use" is an extremely deceptive statement.

I have repeatedly surveyed the parking situation in the downtown on a Friday evening around 6:30 to 7:00 p.m., as Consultants should have done for their reports to the City, and, consistently, the on-street parking has been fully utilized except for 30 to 50 spots, and parking lots have been half full or more at that time. I have reported this on many occasions to the city and to LVEC management, but all reports have been consistently ignored.

Published: 02/20/08 10:48:27 AM
Permanent link to this item

February 19, 2008

In St. John's: Big acts, big losses

The biggest loser was Hootie & The Blowfish. The band's show on Sept. 11, 2006, cost Mile One $125,196.

From Sunday's Telegram in St. John's: the more acts they book at the Mile One Centre, the more money they tend to lose.

Looking at some of the LVEC's upcoming events, it's hard to imagine this isn't already happening here.

Published: 02/19/08 11:01:26 AM
Permanent link to this item
A year ago in KCAL: February 2007

Looking back to last February, in 2007. This is old news.

Last year on February 1st 2007 CKWS-TV reported that Kingston's major construction projects were not much benefiting local labour.

On February 12th 2007, the BIA cemented its 30-year, $3-million, back-end loaded, 4.57% credit from taxpayers for the LVEC. Today there is evidently no solid plan, no formal channel of public accountability, to ensure this will ever be repaid.

On February 14th 2007 City Staff dropped 14 major LVEC documents on Council just hours prior to key Council votes on the project. Therein was a " Risk Management Plan" that pegged the risk of "insufficient project funding from fundraising and grants" at a "4" on a scale to "1" to "9". Remember, all of Harvey Rosen's other projects (Market Square and The Grand Theatre) were, and remain, in concurrent public fundraising crisis and everybody, like now, knew it then too.

On February 16th, KCAL published the details behind the LVEC's funding, where the money was really coming from, including an Excel spreadsheet you can still download.

On February 20th, The Whig Standard published several LVEC-related stories riddled with grievous errors about the sums involved in the LVEC project.

This was also the time when it was clear that the second covered-up KPMG Report festered on Council.

Then on February 26th Councillor Vicki Schmolka was mugged on K-Rock's airwaves and K-Rock's Shadoe Davis was being obnoxious in The Whig. You can listen to MP3-format recordings here (Schmolka, Wong, and Davis), and here ("G" and rock-star Rob Baker).

Meanwhile project proponents like Ken Wong and Jeff Garrah get to repeatedly field softballs from CKWS-TV's Julie Brown on KEDCO-funded TV-COGECO programmes.

On February 27th 2007, KCAL's list of apparent LVEC cost omissions.

By the end of February 2007, everybody on Council knew that ALL of the LVEC's financial risks were going to be assumed by taxpayers. Everybody on Council knew the LVEC was a rigged-deal from a taxpayer's perspective.

So what changed? Nothing.

In the end this gutless Council even balked at the opportunity for independent project oversight. Council had the chance, and certainly had the votes, to appoint a Council advocate to the project cabinet but Mark Gerretsen, BIA board member, withdrew the long-delayed motion in April 2007.

Thus Mayor Harvey Rosen and his acolytes were free to continue the unfettered bullying of the LVEC project clear through to the end.

Published: 02/19/08 12:34:42 AM
Permanent link to this item

February 16, 2008

Union busting becomes so Tragically Hip (UPDATED)
Lots and lots of LVEC Jobs!

When you hire an out-of-town company to run the LVEC, what do you get? How about an out-of-province non-union labour provider for staging services.

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 471 (Ottawa/Kingston) is pissed about this, and rightly so.


Update: As it turns out, the facility operator, Arcturus SMG, is bringing-in non-union labour from out-of-town for both staging and for event security for the LVEC's opening concert by The Tragically Hip.

Back in May 2006, rock-star Rob Baker was front-and-centre in a $50,000 ad campaign that featured logos from KEDCO, The Chamber of Commerce, Kingston Accomodation Partners, and local construction associations.

The ad, which ran in all the local papers and on a now-defunct website named WatchKingstonGrow.com, promised "New Employment Opportunities: 750 Construction and 450 post-construction jobs".

At the time, the ad was designed to influence Council for critical LVEC-related votes in May 2006. The website went dark after just one year on April 11 2007. Evidently the LVECs drum-beaters didn't have the $10 and the stones required to keep "Watch Kingston Grow" in the public eye.

So let's recap what's actually happened so far, shall we?

The LVEC was railroaded through on false premises such as this with the help of several supine out-of-town consultants and using out-of-town project management support. It was designed by out-of-town architects, then built by an out-of-town general contractor, using significant amounts of out-of-town construction labour. The arena is being operated by an out-of-town management company that's bringing-in out-of-town non-union labour provider for event-related services. Of course, the vast majority of the acts coming to into the LVEC will be from out-of-town, and most of the box-office will be leaving with them on the bus.

Where's the mayor? He's out-of-town, on holidays, between February 12th to the 20th, while the LVEC fundraising campaign he chairs is $1M short. Harvey Rosen: Vision, Courage, Results.

Published: 02/16/08 07:55:58 PM
Permanent link to this item
Celebrate THIS! #4: For nearly a year now, Google ranks the City of Kingston #1 for the keywords "dispersed parking"
Whig Advertising

Friday The Whig Standard distributed a special advertising section to "Celebrate the Opening" of the LVEC. Therein, on page 10 of the supplemental section, is this claim:

London's John Labatt Centre has it, so does Toronto's Air Canada Centre, so does New York's Madison Square Gardens. Like these successful downtown venues, the Kingston Regional Sports and Entertainment Centre takes advantage of a dispersed parking model.

Whoever wrote this in The Whig Standard is ignorant.

For the record, so there is no Whig-Standard-induced confusion here:

Google search results for 'dispersed parking'

But nevermind hyperbole courtesy of our Whig. Let's examine "dispersed parking", shall we?

If you execute a Google search for the term "dispersed parking" you'll get results similar to those pictured at left.

Look who ranks in the top-two spots.

Scroll the list, and look for something else, anything, comparable and related to parking for the LVEC. You won't find it.

This isn't new; it's been this way for nearly a year (a link to our item from April 11 2007).

But it goes back further still: back in mid-September 2006, 17-months ago, Council and our local mainstream media were informed that THE CONCEPT "DISPERSED" PARKING IS NOT EVEN RECOGNIZED IN MAINSTREAM TRAFFIC ENGINEERING.

In other words, "dispersed parking" is homespun crap. Those who have perpetrated this blatant fabrication, and who have built this arena with such contempt for the arena's customers and the taxpayers of Kingston won't be forgotten.

Another false statement by The Whig on Page 10 of the supplement is the number of parking spots available for people on-street and at various lots. They say:

Also, more than 550 on-street parking spaces are located within 600m of the Centre and will be free for use during evening and Sunday events.

KCAL's Friday night counts around 6:30-7:00 p.m., on the public record beginning May 25 2005, have consistently show only about 30-40 empty parking spots on-street. The Kingston Whig Standard has slept through this whole boondoggle.

Google search results for 'dispersed parking'

But here's where things get really weird for Harvey Rosen, the Springers, City CAO Laubenstein and senior City Staff.

If you search google for the exact phrase "dispersed parking model" (with quotes) just one document is returned. A well-formed query which returns a single Google result, which is extremely rare.

It's a story from the Berkley Daily Planet, written in 2006, and it's about a grocery store with serious parking issues.

Now how bizarre is that?

Parking in London, ON

Parking lots surrounding the John Labatt Centre in London.

See also

Published: 02/16/08 12:20:04 AM
Permanent link to this item

February 11, 2008

The Mayor, KROCK, John Wright, and Anglin Bay - a pecuniary interest?

Consider this:

One question arising is: If Mayor Rosen, via his holdings, has had a long-standing and ongoing business relationship with John Wright, under the same roof, then how come Mayor Rosen didn't disclose this apparent pecuniary interest when deliberating the Anglin-Bay LVEC which was supposed to be built on land owned by John Wright?

863 Princess Street, Kingston, ON

Published: 02/11/08 12:30:08 AM
Permanent link to this item

February 4, 2008

Kingston's naming rights agreement

Here's a link to the proposed LVEC naming rights agreement which the city has put online.

The name of the company hasn't been revealed. Reading the agreement, it's evidently a media company.

The deal has an interesting twist: the Sponsor explicitly becomes the preferred supplier for spending on promoting events.

So it appears that the Sponsor:

The event promotion pie could be worth $600,000 per year. At that level of media purchasing, you might expect a 25% discount ($150,000) in any case. If so, staff might be drastically over-selling this deal to Council.

How ironic would it be for K-ROCK to be on the outside looking-in at the LVEC's promotional expenditures for the next 10-years?

Then again, if the Sponsor is a local consortium, which presumably would include KROCK, that would re-connect some interesting dots.

Either way it looks to be a coup for the Sponsor, and it shows the poor negotiating position of the City.

See, the deal is not just for the naming rights. It's also for 10-years of event advertising and promotion business. That business is guaranteed, in the short-term, because heavily promoting the LVEC is imperative.

The business also flows 2-ways, as the Sponsor can curry the favour of its advertisers inside the building.

There's more: if aggregate attendance is below a yet-to-be-specified threshhold the Sponsor can just walk away. No Hershey Centre scenarios for these folks! If ticket sales are "poor" the shortfalls will be borne by Kingston's taxpayers as the agreement provides specific bail-out clauses for the Sponsor.

More to the point, if there's over-allocation to event advertising and promotion, leading to more funneled through the Sponsor and corresponding lower than expected operational profits, the regrettable shortfalls will be picked-up by taxpayers.

Notice the continuing theme: Once again, Council is being asked to quickly approve a complex long-term LVEC-related deal with information provided at the very last possible moment. That's how staff at senior levels in this city continue to operate.

Published: 02/04/08 07:49:49 PM
Permanent link to this item

February 3, 2008

Naming rights in Sault Ste. Marie going sour

There's an interesting article in Sunday's Soo News about how their LVEC's naming rights deal has gone sour. The brewery (Steelback) sponsoring the arena is in bankruptcy protection and their last cheque for $67,500 was NSF.

See this article in the December 17th Globe and Mail Report on Business for more details on the $120 million owed to more than 400 creditors.

A citizen's petition is in circulation demanding that the arena's name be changed to include "Sault Memorial Gardens".

Expect Kingston-City Staff to present the Soo's naming-rights deal to Kingston City Council without any mention of the Soo's current predicament! Troubles in Sault Ste. Marie have been well known since November 2007, but protecting the interests of Kingston Taxpayers, and honesty in accounting never counted for much here.

Published: 02/03/08 02:48:06 PM
Permanent link to this item

 

Click here to view the latest news items

Last Updated: March 3, 2009