Published on April 22, 2009
A motion for the City of Ottawa to enter into 60 days of negotiations with the local developers who proposed the Lansdowne Live! plan to revitalize Lansdowne Park passed today by a vote of 14 to 9. The negotiations are meant to iron out details of the development plan and see if the developers can meet the strict requirements of the city laid out in the motion, including requirements for green space on the site and restrictions on the allowed development, a limit to the city’s financial contribution and the annual cost to the city not exceed the current $3.8 million the city spends on park upkeep today and park revenues not subsidizing a professional sport team.
Published on April 21, 2009
I have been posting developing news on the Ottawa stadium situation in the comments of the State of the Stadiums article. This has proven to be a bad idea since the coverage has increased day-by-day and is specific to the Ottawa situation. Therefore, I have decided to create this post to track the news reports leading up to the decision. The decision will, of course, require an article all its own. Each day I will link and comment on the news stories surrounding Ottawa’s decision around an outdoor stadium.
Published on April 16, 2009
In the first article in this series I briefly mentioned a stadium fund CFLdb is proposing to help contribute to the upkeep of existing stadiums and construction of new stadiums across the country. More details on the plan behind such a fund and how it will operate are explained below. These are my initial thoughts on the fund with potential options and ideas about its operation that may not all be feasible. I hope it opens up a conversation around the country, especially with CFL and local leaders, that allows the idea to be considered seriously and hopefully a fund established quickly. After the CFL and municipalities neglected their infrastructure the past 30 years, the establishment of this fund could ensure that never happens again in the future.
Published on April 15, 2009
Note: Some background can be found in the previous article on the stadiums.
The funding of large stadium infrastructure is always a sticky political topic. In good times when the money to pay for a project may be more readily available opponents will argue for spending the money on roads, hospitals, other civic projects or even reducing taxes. In an economic downturn any public contribution to such “frivolous” projects would be opposed while cutbacks occur in other areas. Throughout there are groups with the views that large stadiums with limited use should not receive any taxpayer money; they should be built on a user pay basis. On the other side there are people who advocate building the biggest and best, no matter the cost and pay for it later. The position a person takes is a matter of personal opinion and the split in the population does little to solve the issue. There should be a better way for establishing a public policy that provides a compromise to the two positions.
I believe that without public funding, all most all stadiums, arenas and other sports facilities in Canada would not exist. From the small, local arenas, to medium sized arenas, to large arenas and stadiums, all have been funded in whole or in part by public, taxpayer money through the history of Canada. Public money has helped provide these facilities, enriching our society and communities. That does not mean that politicians should write blank cheques for any proposed project. Some simple questions can help determine the best course for replacement or refurbishment and other questions can help determine the size and scope of building new stadiums when no existing facility exists.
Published on April 14, 2009
Of the current eight stadiums hosting CFL teams, four are currently undergoing expansion or discussion is underway about replacement or major refurbishment. Of the remaining four cities, three have stadium refurbishment plans or wish lists. The remaining franchise, Toronto, has had stadium discussions in the past five years but does not have any active plans from their current situation leasing Rogers Centre. Three more communities, Ottawa, Quebec City and Moncton also have stadium plans in order to attract CFL franchises. Understanding the age and condition of current stadiums, the proposals for improving or building facilities and the funding requirements allows one to see the big picture over the life of these buildings.
Published on April 13, 2009
On paper it appears Canada is undergoing a major stadium building boom with the CFL being the major benefactor. Yet only one of these stadiums is currently approved, another is waiting for the final political approvals to proceed and the rest remain in a proposal stage with great uncertainty if they will ever proceed, not when. In all these centres there has been great public debate over the funding of the construction costs of stadium projects. One common complaint from opponents is pubic money should not be spent on infrastructure that benefits few citizens (football fans) and provides facilities for team owners to further enrich themselves. These owners, the opposition says, should foot the bill themselves; assume the risk and reap the benefits. The CFL and its member teams and owners have contributed little to stadium infrastructure the argument is furthered and yet they are the major benefactors as tenants (who else needs a 30,000 seat outdoor stadium?).
While the facts are a being spun in these arguments, there is a point there about contributing to the communities like CFL teams have been doing for over 100 years. Now that the CFL is in a better position financially and there are a number of opportunities across the country, the league and their fans can make a more visible contribution to these projects. To provide a formal way for the CFL to contribute to stadium infrastructure, CFLdb proposes a Stadium Fund to be established by the league which would pay out funds for stadium construction and improvements across the country. This is not a short term venture but something to establish now for the long term benefits. While it may seem too late for the current slate of projects, now is the earliest it can be established to avoid the lack of a fund in the future like projects face today.
CFLdb does not have an initial contribution to establish the fund but would contribute in some way if a fund was established. I hope that this idea can gain some support with fans across the country and be seen by those in the league office to be built upon for the benefit of the CFL. I will explain the fund idea more in a later article in this series along with my thoughts on public funding for new stadium projects and renovations. A warning for readers: this group of articles is long, over 7,000 words. I referenced external articles throughout making it an even longer read for all the facts. A complicated and large topic, I felt I needed to explain the current state and issues thoroughly and from different perspectives. First, the current state of stadiums across the country will be examined in the next article, State of the Stadiums.
Published on April 9, 2009
The day after the fallout from the lack of a positive thought on two stadium proposals to improve the City of Ottawa and plans to study the issue more by a city committee, more frustration is vented from citizens of Ottawa.
City manager Kent Kirkpatrick states the additional study plans were known to the stadium players. Despite their frustration, neither group is ready to pull their proposal as a result of the potential for delays and indecision. Feeling that the situation has been studied to death, each group would like the city to set a direction and enter into detailed negotiations on the project. Slamming city council on their indecision, four Ottawa Sun sports reporters express their opinions on the matter. In another editorial, Walter Robinson believes the answers are already known. Meanwhile, citizens of Ottawa get their two cents in on the issue and latest developments.
The Ottawa City Council and city staff have been taking a beating over the rate of progress on making a decision. They are doing their due diligence that is expected from elected officials. Politicians who rabidly back capital projects at first site without looking at the price tag are more dangerous. While it has taken a long time, no decision would be the only bad decision council could make, effectively allowing the current opportunity to slip away with the understanding it may never appear again.
Published on April 7, 2009
No positive direction came out of a City of Ottawa committee meeting analyzing two stadium proposals before council yesterday. The staff report scoring the proposals ranked the Lansdowne Live! proposal ahead of the Kanata proposal 80% to 70%. However neither proposal received even a quiet endorsement from city staff or councilors with financing being the main topic of discussion. While a setback to returning the CFL to the nation’s capital, there still remain two weeks before council will vote on April 22 whether to proceed further with Lansdowne Live! or look at other options for Lansdowne Park.