ARENA Facts

    PROPOSED MARKHAM ARENA (GTA CENTRE) 2013

         WHAT GRAEME ROUSTAN IS NOT SHARING WITH YOU!


Dear Markham Resident or Business Owner,

You may have recently seen a letter from Graeme Roustan, the promoter who is trying to sell Markham politicians, businesses, and residents on his grand scheme for a publicly financed 20,000 seat arena for our City.  His letter, just like his website, is full of incomplete and, therefore, misleading information.  Don’t be gullible, be informed.

So far six City Councillors* have stated they are against the plan to have Markham go into debt for $496 million (principal and interest) for a facility that will be used almost entirely for ticketed events for the benefit of the private sector.  This project has not been approved, and may never be approved!

Here are some FACTS that Mr. Roustan is not sharing with you. 

1.  Financial experts and university professors who study arena financing all over North America write that very few publicly funded arenas make any money.  Most cities end up paying for their arena’s losses year after year through property taxes just like the Copps Coliseum in Hamilton. (Professor Judith Grant Long, Harvard University)

2.  Experts agree that large arenas, without major tenants, are not financially viable.  Even Peter Luukko, Chair of Global Spectrum, the U.S. Company that would operate this arena if approved, recently said any arena in a major market needs a big league team to be successful.  The GTA Centre has no big league team and there is no indication that it ever will. (See comments by Riley O’Connor, Chair, Live Nation, Tor. Star, Aug.20, 2012.)

3. The economic benefits to local businesses that Mr. Roustan reports are based on unsupportable assumptions.  Again, the experts who actually study the economic benefits of arenas report that these claimed financial benefits to local businesses do not materialize.  “Sports stadiums typically aren’t a good tool for economic development.” (Victor Matheson, stadium economist at Holy Cross College)

4.  The ‘special levies’ being charged to developers in Markham, for each condo and house they build, will be used to help pay the City’s debt on the arena.  However, the legality of these special levies is questionable and they can be challenged in the courts, thereby leaving tax payers at risk.  (John Mascarin, leading municipal lawyer, Toronto)

5. By designating the proposed arena a Municipal Capital Facility, the City of Markham will lose an estimated $3.75 million per year in property taxes and some $20 million in development charges, all in exchange for only 13 days per year for community use of the arena.  (There will be a predicted 130 private sector, ticketed events per year.)

6.  Graeme Roustan can be very convincing.  However, the Toronto Star reports that he has a history of failed business ventures, unhappy former business partners, and has been found by a court in the U.S. to have committed statutory fraud.   Is he an appropriate business partner for our City, especially in a project of this magnitude with this level of financial risk?

Many other problems with Mr. Roustan’s website could be addressed.  However, even these six points are sufficient to show you that you are being asked to support a huge arena that will be empty most of the time, that has no chance of financial success, that will not enhance economic growth in Markham, that is being built on a shaky (perhaps unlawful) financial framework, that will lose the City many millions in taxes and development charges, and that is being promoted by a person with a questionable business track record.

YOU CAN RESEARCH THIS YOURSELF ON-LINE BY READING NEWSPAPER ARTICLES (see “Issues: Arena” and Arena Latest News Links) AND BY GOOGLING THE INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE QUOTED.

DON’T BE GULLIBLE.  BE INFORMED.  IT IS YOUR FINANCIAL FUTURE THE CITY IS GAMBLING WITH…JUST SAY NO!

YOU CAN EMAIL MAYOR SCARPITTI AND YOUR CITY COUNCILLOR AT MayorCouncillors&C.A.O@markham.ca.

* The City Councillors who are against Markham borrowing millions for this facility are:  Deputy Mayor Jack Heath, Regional Councillor Jim Jones, Regional Councillor Joe Li, Councillors Valerie Burke, Don Hamilton, and Colin Campbell.

We thank them for their fiscal wisdom, their common sense, and their responsiveness to the views of their constituents.

These members of Markham Council voted to continue with the project:  Mayor Frank Scarpitti, Regional Councillor Gord Landon, Councillors Howard Shore, Carolina Moretti, Alex Chiu, Alan Ho, and Logan Kanapathi.

Markham Citizens Coalition for Responsive Government, www.mccrg.ca