Markham, Ontario Plans to Build $325 million Arena

It appears that once every couple years some town in the Greater Toronto Area announce plans to build an arena that can suit a potential NHL team.

This is very dangerous financially to build an arena to “hopefully” land an NHL team. Just as the news of Hamilton, Ont. building a new arena to create a second GTA franchise, Markham is the new contender in “Who will come here?”

Artist Rendering
Artist Rendering

This time around it’s Graeme Roustan and Frank Scarpitti who are in a mutually beneficial partnership. Roustan is the CEO of GTA Sports and Entertainment while Scarpitti is the mayor of Markham. They announced earlier Saturday that taxpayers will be off the hook for the bill of the proposed $325 million GTA Centre.

Don’t be fooled by the GTA Sports and Entertainment name, GTA is more about real estate and developing sports arenas and entertainment complexes than running the day-to-day operations of a team. But none the less, Roustan and Scarpitti are determined to work together to bring a second team to Toronto.

The official vote on memorandums understanding that the locals will not pay for anything and that the arena will be funded via GTA S&E, long-term arena occupancy agreements, and private residential developers ¬†will come Monday. And they mean business as 90 speakers are scheduled to appear at a city council meeting Monday according to Sportsnet’s John Shannon.

On Markham’s end, $70 million has been committed from developers while another $50 million still needs to be raised. Taxpayers are somewhat being charged fees regarding the project via a special fee on each newly built home. This fee has already raised $10 million. It should be noted that GTA has yet to secure financing even though they have hired two investment banks to find the cash.

Critics told the Toronto Star they believe the taxpayers won’t be completely off the hook. Regional Councillor Jim Jones called the arena “a white elephant” and he’s not convinced that residential and entertainment developers will contribute their end to the arena and that the cost will be passed onto consumers.

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