Recently Edmonton’s Arena deal moved forward finally after long and bitter negotiations between the Katz group and The City. The final deal ends up being that the city will get roughly 4 Million a year from the club, which is about double what the currently pay. The total amount of the project is going to be in the vicinity of 600 million dollars, a hefty sum no doubt, a lot of that is tax payer subsidized. There will be a community arena, Commercial space and an overpass.
Edmonton needs this area (although it looks exactly like a driver head from a golf club which is a bad optic to have) because their downtown core is in need of something big to kick start it again. How many more shops that now sit empty will start and pay their own property tax? How many other projects will go in to be near the arena? How many pubs and restaurants will start with money being circulated and the overall result of a more prosperous city paying more into itself with parking, taxes, transit and residual economy. We should not forget that Players are taxed too, What does having 25 millionaires being taxed do for a city? What about all of the charity that the clubs gives and the players give as a result of their income?
All of a sudden 600 million is not a big number. Especially knowing that city will reap it back in spades.
In Calgary the mindset is different, their core is doing fine and there is an east village plan taking effect. There is no need for a revitalization. Mayor Naheed Nanshi passed a controversial plan that involved making a tunnel under the new airport runway after Barlow trail was closed due to this same runway being installed. Nenshi insisted that this was a necessary artery, although the city has gotten along fine without it for the duration of the project, it’s estimated cost was $300 million. It will bring in no taxes, only a few hotels and close businesses will benefit, it will drive no new economy. Yet knowing this Nenshi has declared the Saddeldome, one of the oldest buildings in the NHL, “fine” and said “what’s wrong with it?”. Of course this may just be posturing by the City in looking ahead to negotiations. The Saddledome, due to its design has a foot thick concrete roof that is not able to support current concert tours, Edmonton gets the rolling stone while Calgary gets Fleetwood mac yet Nenshi still thinks only two concerts don’t come here because of this reason a year, he’s right, because they long since past have stopped even planning on Calgary. If the Mayor’s idea of growing our profile is making us look second rate than he’s done an admirable job. We have a tunnel next to no one cares about though.
Calgary’s other dilemma is that the Flames ownership group is extremely wealthy and the argument is, “why fund what they could buy by themselves?” and ,”why fund a Private company with tax dollars?”. These are legitimate questions that are answered above. Taxes, Charity, Community profile, Subsequent businesses that thrive, employment and Community pride. During the ’05 lock out how many pubs closed doors? How many 17th Avenue restaurants went belly up? Those places pay taxes, employee people who put money back into our local economy, and serve delicious chicken wings, why make them suffer? Is that not a public issue?
So Calgarians, look to the North, they will have a new arena, more concerts, a better profile and a booming economy.
We have a tunnel under a runway.