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On December 4th, The St. John's Telegram published an article titled Mile One in the red -- May never break even, mayor says about the precarious financial situation of the 6,250-seat Mile One Centre, and what some politicians are saying about the Centre now.
Mile One Centre is in the red for $640,000 and may always have some level of subsidy from the City of St. John's.
When questioned on whether the stadium and convention centre will ever break even with it's $1.5-million subsidy from the city, Mayor Andy Wells snapped back that the facility may always be in some debt.
"We're not going to break even on our Mundy Pond facility, we're not going to break even on Wedgewood Park, we're not going to break even on Mile One.
According to the LVEC business plan, our building is supposed to easily cover its costs and service its debts.
Coun. Ron Ellsworth tabled Mile One Centre's financial statements and 2008 budget Monday night, pointing out operating losses of $639,596 for 2007 and a projected $527,560 loss for 2008.
That means city residents are paying about $2.25 million in subsidies to keep the centre operational. Wells said that number is reasonable when compared with the benefits the city receives from the facility.
"As far as I'm concerned it's been a good deal. It's been controversial... but I'm perfectly satisfied that things are falling into line," he said.
We expect to hear the same sorts of things from Harvey Rosen and Ed Smith about the LVEC.
Here's a link to the Mile One Centre Events Calendar. Just like the four other Ontario arenas we're watching, there's really nothing going on at the Mile One Centre, with just one non-hockey event (Blue Rodeo) scheduled in the first three months of 2008.
So far this year, the QMJHL St. John's Fog Devils have attracted an average of 3,365 fans to their 18 home-games, which is about 52% of the building's capacity.
Given all this, how is it possible that some politicians in St. John's can claim to be satisfied? Who's kidding whom?
The construction cost of the Mile One Centre was $35 Million in 2001. The present value of St-John's $2.25 million in annual subsidies over 30-years, given the latest prime rate of 7.25 %, is $27 Million.
Just 3 years ago:
"In a deal the City of St. John's says will not require a taxpayer subsidy, the Fog Devils will play next fall in Mile One stadium after all."
March 4, 2005
In a deal the City of St. John's says will not require a taxpayer subsidy, the Fog Devils will play next fall in Mile One stadium after all.
The new deal will see the two sides share profits equally, with the Fog Devils responsible for any losses.
Coun. Keith Coombs, who chairs St. John's Sports and Entertainment, says Mile One's operating deficit will not worsen under the deal.
Mile One has been running a deficit since it opened in 2001.
"The city has met its objective of ensuring there's no subsidy," Coombs said.
There are two LVEC-related items on Tuesday's Council agenda.
In a full-page colour ad in today's Whig is an announcement for 5 LVEC events:
There's no mention of the other dates everyone already knows about:
About all this, some observations:
On December 11 2007 The Whig published this story titled Fans get dibs on Hip; Concert tickets sold on website first.
Tickets for the Hip concert, the first entertainment event planned for the Kingston Regional Sports and Entertainment Centre, will go on sale tomorrow, with true Hip fans getting first dibs.
Registered users of the band's website, www.thehip.com, will get first pick of tickets to the show. These fans can log onto the Hip website starting at 10 a.m. tomorrow to find a link to purchase advance tickets. They will be available until midnight Thursday.
So the taxpayers of Kingston are forced to hold-the-bag for the LVEC boondoggle, but for the LVEC's opening concert event, registered fans of the band, regardless of where they may be, get first-dibs on tickets? It's pretty clear who's calling the shots here.
There's more: the LVEC fundraising campaign is still $1.3M short of target yet the Tragically Hip is using the opening concert as a fundraiser for some pet-charities, not the arena.
Not that Camp trillium and Lake Ontario Waterkeeper aren't worthy causes. It's just that, in the scheme of things, the taxpayers of Kingston never counted for anything. The LVEC's opening concert is just another sign of that.
It's also a clear sign that, despite all that is invested by taxpayers, when it comes to the LVEC the City of Kingston is powerless.
The Oldtimer's Hockey Challenge, who in the past played each year in Kingston's Memorial Centre, will play in the LVEC on Thursday, March 27, 2008 at 7:00 PM.
Here's the George Jones tour schedule. He's playing in lots of smaller towns. Kingston's not on the list. "Passing us by on the 401" between Toronto (April 8) and Ottawa (April 9).
Just like Avril Lavigne who still "passes us by on the 401" between Ottawa (April 3rd) and Toronto (April 9).
MAR 25 TCU PLACE SASKATOON, SASK 7:30
MAR 27 CRYSTAL CENTRE GRANDE PRAIRIE, ALB 7:30
MAR 28 THICKWOOD ARENA FT. MCMURRARY, ALB 7:30
MAR 29 NORTHERN JUBILEE EDMONTON, ALB 7:30
MAR 31 SOUTHERN JUBILEE CALGARY, ALB 7:30
APR 01 CONEXUS ARTS CENTRE REGINA, SASK 7:30
APR 03 BURTON CUMMINGS THEATER WINNIPEG, MAN 7:30
APR 04 BURTON CUMMINGS THEATER WINNIPEG, MAN 7:30
APR 05 COMMUNITY AUDITORIUM THUNDER BAY, ONT 7:30
APR 07 CENTRE IN THE SQUARE KITCHENER, ONT 7:30
APR 08 ROY MASSEY HALL TORONTO, ONT 7:30
APR 09 CIVIC CENTRE OTTAWA, ONT 7:30
APR 12 METRO CENTRE HALIFAX, NS 7:30
APR 13 CENTRE 200 SYDNEY, NS 7:30
APR 16 COLISEUM COMPLEX MONCTON, NB 7:30
APR 17 AITKEN CENTRE FREDERICTON, NB 7:30
APR 19 PEPSI CENTRE CORNER BROOK, NF 7:30
APR 20 COMMUNITY CENTRE GANDER, NF 7:30
APR 21 MILE ONE CENTRE ST. JOHN'S, NF 7:30
APR 23 CIVIC CENTRE CHARLOTTETOWN, PE
The Stars On Ice 2008 Tickets and Schedule page shows us that Kingston's LVEC is evidently too small.
The smallest venue on the Stars on Ice schedule is the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria which seats 7,400.
The Stars on Ice tour features Kurt Browning, Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, Sasha Cohen, Jeff Buttle, and Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon.
They'll be "passing us by on the 401" sometime between shows in Ottawa (April 19) and Toronto (April 25). Even with a five-day scheduling cushion, the LVEC evidently isn't attractive.
Stars on Ice tickets in the smaller venues like Victoria are typically $50 (ends), $70 (sides), and $100 (at ice level). In Toronto the ice-level tickets are $130.
Here's the link to the LVEC website: http://www.kingstonrsec.ca.
That's an odd web address considering that the much shorter and intuitive http://krsec.ca is registered to Paul MacLatchy in the name of the Corporation of the City of Kingston. Is this a sign of acrimony between Arcturus and the City?
Launching the website before the naming-rights deal is a clear signal that revenue from LVEC naming-rights may not materialize.
Club Lounge/Bar accessible to guests with Club Seat tickets or Suite tickets only.
Note how the "Club Lounge" is absurdly distorted in relative size in the diagram.
These packages will include Stay, See & Play entertainment and recreation experiences with tickets to Kingston RSEC events, local attractions and great accommodations.
Another example of sloppiness: check out the venue seating layouts which look more like curling rinks than hockey rinks. The PDF brochures exhibit the same obvious problem.
It would appear that rookies are in charge of the LVEC's web presence.
Finally, the Kingston Regional Sports & Entertainment Centre Transportation Operations Plan is online.
The KRSEC Transportation Operation Plan is on the agenda for the Environment, Infrastructure and Transportation Policies committee agenda for Thursday.
The agenda document refers to "Exhibit A - KRSEC transportation Operations Plan Draft Final Report, December 2007" which is distributed seperately and not yet available on the City of Kingston website.
We assume that Staff will be improvising this document until the last possible moment. Here we are, just two months before opening, and traffic and parking is still being improvised with "Draft Final Reports". This is possibly the first time we've seen a major plan masquerading as an exhibit.
Get this: Parking is to be split into three zones. Parking in zone-1 will cost $8.00 in city-run lots, $5.00 for lot parking in zone-2, and $3.00 in zone-3. On-street parking is still free everywhere, regardless of zone.
What we'll likely see is jammed streets, stalled traffic, mostly empty city lots, and nearly zero ancillary busineess downtown during event nights, with taxpayers picking up all the pieces.
Denis Leger and Glen Laubenstein signed-off on the plan which, on Saturday December 8th, still wasn't publicly available.
The meeting is Thursday, December 13, 2007 at 5 p.m. in Conference Room AB Rideaucrest Home.
Edward Grenda, president of the Kingston Historical Society, wrote this letter that the The Whig published on December 4th 2007. The LVEC is being constructed adjacent, some might say atop, a 17th Century settlement site.
Evidently the remaining bastion is not being respected by project and site managers and contractors.
Simply put, this type of treatment of a national historic site is outrageous and speaks of rank negligence on the part of those responsible for the supervisory functions on this project. The damage to this site was a patent violation of various provincial and federal regulations governing designated historic sites.
There's a draw at OurCanada.ca where you can enter to win one of 85 VIP concert passes to Anne Murray concerts. One of the dates you can select is Kingston, on April 22nd 2008.
This will be an LVEC concert, not the Grand Theatre, as she plays London's John Labatt Centre two nights later. Ticket prices in London are $82.75, $62.75, and $48.75.
Here are the Anne Murray tour dates: Moncton - April 15; Charlottetown - April 17; Halifax - April 18; Montreal - April 20; Ottawa - April 21; Kingston - April 22; London - April 24; Toronto - April 25; Sault. St. Marie - April 26; Thunder Bay - April 28; Winnipeg - April 29; Regina - April 30; Edmonton - May 2; Calgary - May 3; Kelowna - May 6; Victoria - May 8; Vancouver - May 9.
Anne Murray is 62 years-old.
Update: : It's official.
In response to Barbara Wamboldt's November 27th Whig opinion piece titled Naming the sports centre: let's call it The Millstone, the Whig published this letter by Sally Barnes on Saturday December 1st.
In a nutshell, Wamboldt says events at the new centre will be unaffordable, it will benefit only downtown residents and Kingstonians won't be willing to brave the winter weather to attend events there.
Oh, c'mon, Barbara. We are Canadians. It will take more than bitter winds off the St. Lawrence river to scare off our adults and kids anxious for the opportunity at last to attend exciting concerts, sporting events and ice shows now available only to those who can afford family trips to Toronto and Ottawa.
Folks in London and other medium-sized cities competently plan, finance, manage and benefit from their downtown sports and entertainment centres. Why not us? Let's show some faith in our civic leaders and ourselves.
In addition to this blatant wishful thinking and revisionist history (see also here), it's notable that Sally Barnes was communications co-chair of the 2006 Harvey Rosen re-election campaign.
The pretense of non-partisan insight in Ms Barnes' letter is notable.
Many may not agree with her views, but at least Ms Barnes has contributed towards what she believes, which is more than can be said for most of this long list of so-called "Friends of the Entertainment Centre".
A pointed observation might be: Ms Wambolt was merely saying what is increasingly obvious to everyone. Ms Barnes is well-advised to remember that we'll soon know exactly how the LVEC performs, financially or otherwise.
When that time comes, we'll surely recall who was glibly shooting-the-messenger here.