SJSE seeking $1.5-million operating grant

Deana Stokes Sullivan
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Politics

At it's regular weekly meeting today, St. John's city council will be asked to consider a request from St. John's Sports and Entertainment (SJSE) Ltd. for an operating grant of $1.5 million for its 2010 budget.

Gerry Smith, chairman of the SJSE board, which operates Mile One Centre and the St. John's Convention Centre, said in a letter to council the grant represents a second consecutive annual reduction of $250,000.

At it's regular weekly meeting today, St. John's city council will be asked to consider a request from St. John's Sports and Entertainment (SJSE) Ltd. for an operating grant of $1.5 million for its 2010 budget.

Gerry Smith, chairman of the SJSE board, which operates Mile One Centre and the St. John's Convention Centre, said in a letter to council the grant represents a second consecutive annual reduction of $250,000.

Smith said it's worth noting that the city's financial support of SJSE has continued to decline, having reached a peak of $2.1 million in 2007, when SJSE incurred a $640,000 loss over and above the $1.5-million operating grant provided that year.

Despite the weakened North American economic climate, Smith said the SJSE board and management strongly believes SJSE can operate within this reduced operating grant, with continued cost savings projected attributable to energy conservation measures, maintenance support and building improvements. He said SJSE is projected to operate within the city's operating grant for the year ending Dec. 31, 2009, but audited results will be issued in March 2010.

For 2009, SJSE's budgeted revenues totalled $5,108,808, including an operating grant from the city of $1,750,000.

Budget for year ending Dec. 31, 2010

Its 2010 budget lists total projected revenues of $5,808,803, including:

$2,166,057 from entertainment and events;

$1,500,000 in the form of a city operating grant;

$762,246 from sales and marketing;

$1,380,500 from the convention centre.

Expenses projected for 2010, totalling $5,808,803, include:

$1,405,036 spent on entertainment and events;

$1,841,681 for technical service and building maintenance;

$851,806 for general and administrative expenses;

$243,325 for sales and marketing;

$1,466,955 for the convention centre.

Smith declined to discuss SJSE's request Sunday, saying he'd prefer to have it dealt with by council before making any public comment.

Coun. Danny Breen, council's representative on the SJSE, said he agrees with Smith's letter to council that the operating grant being sought is declining each year, so things have improved significantly.

"It started out somewhere around $2.1 million and it had gone to $1.9 million and $1.7 million and now it's at about $1.5 million," Breen said.

He said the city's operating grant covers what would otherwise be an operating deficit for SJSE, so when the situation improves, the grant decreases.

Breen said he's not certain how other councillors will vote on this request.

"But certainly, considering what I've seen there, it seems quite positive over what it's been in the past, so we're certainly moving in the right direction and the board has done a very good job in moving us in the right direction," he said.

Considering the recent downturn in the economy, Breen said, the situation could be a lot worse. In the past, he said, the city subsidized the old St. John's Memorial Stadium with an annual operating grant to the tune of about $900,000.

"With inflation and everything else, we're probably not very far ahead of what we were paying to keep the stadium open," he said. "So that's the other way you can look at that."

Mayor Dennis O'Keefe said Sunday he didn't have a chance when contacted to look at the request in detail, having just returned home after about two weeks away attending meetings.

However, he said "City hall and myself have always been fully supportive of Mile One and I have no doubt, that support will continue."

O'Keefe said he believes the SJSE board of directors are doing an excellent job and in the long run, Mile One will continue to be a benefit not only to the city, but the region.

The decrease in the operating grant from the city is a credit to the board and symbolic of the economic activity going on in the city and the region, O'Keefe said.

The mayor said Mile One will be around another 30 to 40 years before someone decides to maybe build another one and in the meantime, there have been preliminary discussions about the possibility of expanding the St. John's Convention Centre.

The city and Destination St. John's have been studying the logistics of this to handle bigger conventions, O'Keefe said, considering the centre was built to accommodate a future expansion.

"That decision hasn't been made yet as to whether we will do it, but it is certainly something that we are contemplating hand in hand with Destination St. John's and hopefully the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, with some kind of joint funding, but we haven't reached the decision-making stage on that yet," O'Keefe said.

dss@thetelegram.com

Organizations: SJSE board, St. John's Convention Centre, North American Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Geographic location: St. John's

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Recent comments

  • don
    July 02, 2010 - 13:35

    How sad. A beautiful new area empty most of the time. A QMJHL team would have worked if there was more cooperation. Glad cry baby Coombs didnt get back. Sore loser.

  • Robert
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    I agree with Tell it like it is on all but one point. EVERY former atlantic AHL city, with the exception of Fredricton, NB has a QMJHL team, and have embraced them. There are a couple of points that will never ever change. I don't know what it is with Newfoundlanders that they can't walk more than two feet from their car. If Mile One had parking for 10,000 cars, people would complain because they couldn't park at center ice and have an usher carry them to their seat. As far as ticket prices go, there was a moron here a few wekks ago complaining because tickets for his family of four to a senior hockey game cost him the outrageous price of 22 bucks! As much as I hate to say it. St. John's isn't a hockey town, and we have a lot more years to suffer through before anyone even considers bringing another team here, if at all. Why not just close Mile One completely? Think of all the money we could save then!

  • Tim
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    To Gerry Smith and crew.... well if you host free admittance events like the Chuckie and Camilla show is it any wonder you need a grant! I want to see did the taxpayer of St. John's foot the bill for that or did the provincial gov throw in $$$?

  • Saucy Face
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    Yes boys, let's pump a ridiculous amount of taxpayer money into a hockey team for Robin Short and 2200 other whiney people and really sink the budget. To hell with hockey.

  • Mark GD
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    I remember in his first campaign that Tom Hann siad something had to be done about Mile One.

    Then he got on the Council and the committee overseeing Mile One and these financial losses are OK by him now.

    Utterly useless.

  • Dave
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    Well now,Mr. Breen,why not be completely honest and tell the good people how much money you lost due to booking the wrong acts,having to pay huge cancellation fees to these artists,when you couldn't sell enough tickets.I'll bet it more than covers the operating shortfall.In short,sell the place to private enterprise,who are in the business of MAKING money,not running around with there hand's out.Government,at any level,should not be in this business.

  • Dave
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    Having been on the job for all of maybe five weeks, how could Breen possibly be able to say that things are moving in the right direction? It's a pretty sad state of affairs when ONLY needing a bail out of $1.5 million is cause for celebration.

  • Bruce
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    Mr. Breen should consider looking at those numbers a little more closely befor he celebrates their success. T

    They lost $150 grand on the convention center and that is considered an improvement? How about closing the doors.

    A hockey arena with no hockey is only surviving as a half-assed theatre. Council's efforts should be directed towards finding a hockey tennant.

  • Telling it like
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    I was 10 years old when the St. John's Maple Leafs first came to St. John's.

    I remember it very well. I was there for the opening night and it was an amazint atmosphere. The fans were electric and the atmosphere was truly amazing.

    However, I think we have to stop kidding ourselves here. The only reason the St. John's Maple Leafs worked back then was because the AHL had NHL farm teams located in the same backyard as us - Atlantic Provinces and East Coast U.S.

    Now, the AHL has branched out further than ever and St. John's is just a distant memory.

    If people are expected the AHL, ECHL or QMJHL to even consider playing here, you better hope that other teams set up shop in the same neighborhood. At the same time, you better hope

    1 - SJSE learn to play nice and not purposefully sabotage a team just because they don't own it ($10,000 a night rent, get real!)

    2 - People don't complain about parking (use the $2 park and ride!, Oh I have to use my car for EVERYTHING!)

    3 - People don't complain about ticket prices ($15 for a ticket - you cheap cheap cheap people!)

    4 - The future hockey club is not expected to pay the travel costs of visiting teams

  • stupid stadium
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    The stadium from the beginning was built in the wrong location.....PERIOD
    As in other big cities stadiums should be built in areas where major roadways are available for easy admittance and departures. The area around the stadium should have large parking lots. This hunk of concrete and steel had neither . With our weather conditions one of the major considerations should of been parking... I have parked down at the waterfront on many occassions and walked in snowy slushy streets and sidewalks to arrive at the stadium soaking wet...now sit down for a couple of hours in wet clothes...NO Thanks !!
    ,,, what should be done???? Suggestion:
    Sell the location to a oil company and they will tear down the stadium and built their highrise in the location... could possible workout some deal to get in addition to top dollar for the stadium and
    get some consessions to build a new multiplex stadium like the 4 plex in Monction... Would be more beneficial then what we have now... just a thought.
    obw... build it up around Kelsey drive area off the major roads and lots of parking... my two cents worth

  • jeff
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    Has anyone looked at their events calendar for the past 2 yrs? What a joke, the place is empty 90% of the time. With the exception of Elton John, what milestones have Gerry and his crew accomplished? Cirque de Soleil part 2 was a flop. Rick Springfiled? Art Garfunkel? Embarrassing. And then of course, we have the endless list of cancelled performances such as Lenny Kravitz, Ludakris and Karl Wolff. The only $ SJSE managed to save came from overhauling Mile One's management team. Maybe the real problem should be overhauled (aka. SJSE)

  • Amazed
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    Sure, it's not to hard to save money on a building only open for events every blue moon. Turn off the lights and turn down the heat when you go out. :)

    Get a hockey team for the friggin' place! WE are not a concert hotspot on any tour managers radar. If we were then a ahockey team wouldn't be needed, but one would think a main tenant ( not screwed over by council) would bring in some cash.

  • Marty
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    I have to laugh at all you people who say sell the place to private as if they would do any better. With the exception of a few, there no such thing as PRIVATE enterprise in Newfoundland, because without government grants and purchase they'd never survive. Yeah, The FOG DEVILS .. 'NUFF SAID!

  • don
    July 01, 2010 - 20:25

    How sad. A beautiful new area empty most of the time. A QMJHL team would have worked if there was more cooperation. Glad cry baby Coombs didnt get back. Sore loser.

  • Robert
    July 01, 2010 - 20:21

    I agree with Tell it like it is on all but one point. EVERY former atlantic AHL city, with the exception of Fredricton, NB has a QMJHL team, and have embraced them. There are a couple of points that will never ever change. I don't know what it is with Newfoundlanders that they can't walk more than two feet from their car. If Mile One had parking for 10,000 cars, people would complain because they couldn't park at center ice and have an usher carry them to their seat. As far as ticket prices go, there was a moron here a few wekks ago complaining because tickets for his family of four to a senior hockey game cost him the outrageous price of 22 bucks! As much as I hate to say it. St. John's isn't a hockey town, and we have a lot more years to suffer through before anyone even considers bringing another team here, if at all. Why not just close Mile One completely? Think of all the money we could save then!

  • Tim
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    To Gerry Smith and crew.... well if you host free admittance events like the Chuckie and Camilla show is it any wonder you need a grant! I want to see did the taxpayer of St. John's foot the bill for that or did the provincial gov throw in $$$?

  • Saucy Face
    July 01, 2010 - 20:10

    Yes boys, let's pump a ridiculous amount of taxpayer money into a hockey team for Robin Short and 2200 other whiney people and really sink the budget. To hell with hockey.

  • Mark GD
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    I remember in his first campaign that Tom Hann siad something had to be done about Mile One.

    Then he got on the Council and the committee overseeing Mile One and these financial losses are OK by him now.

    Utterly useless.

  • Dave
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    Well now,Mr. Breen,why not be completely honest and tell the good people how much money you lost due to booking the wrong acts,having to pay huge cancellation fees to these artists,when you couldn't sell enough tickets.I'll bet it more than covers the operating shortfall.In short,sell the place to private enterprise,who are in the business of MAKING money,not running around with there hand's out.Government,at any level,should not be in this business.

  • Dave
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    Having been on the job for all of maybe five weeks, how could Breen possibly be able to say that things are moving in the right direction? It's a pretty sad state of affairs when ONLY needing a bail out of $1.5 million is cause for celebration.

  • Bruce
    July 01, 2010 - 19:51

    Mr. Breen should consider looking at those numbers a little more closely befor he celebrates their success. T

    They lost $150 grand on the convention center and that is considered an improvement? How about closing the doors.

    A hockey arena with no hockey is only surviving as a half-assed theatre. Council's efforts should be directed towards finding a hockey tennant.

  • Telling it like
    July 01, 2010 - 19:47

    I was 10 years old when the St. John's Maple Leafs first came to St. John's.

    I remember it very well. I was there for the opening night and it was an amazint atmosphere. The fans were electric and the atmosphere was truly amazing.

    However, I think we have to stop kidding ourselves here. The only reason the St. John's Maple Leafs worked back then was because the AHL had NHL farm teams located in the same backyard as us - Atlantic Provinces and East Coast U.S.

    Now, the AHL has branched out further than ever and St. John's is just a distant memory.

    If people are expected the AHL, ECHL or QMJHL to even consider playing here, you better hope that other teams set up shop in the same neighborhood. At the same time, you better hope

    1 - SJSE learn to play nice and not purposefully sabotage a team just because they don't own it ($10,000 a night rent, get real!)

    2 - People don't complain about parking (use the $2 park and ride!, Oh I have to use my car for EVERYTHING!)

    3 - People don't complain about ticket prices ($15 for a ticket - you cheap cheap cheap people!)

    4 - The future hockey club is not expected to pay the travel costs of visiting teams

  • stupid stadium
    July 01, 2010 - 19:46

    The stadium from the beginning was built in the wrong location.....PERIOD
    As in other big cities stadiums should be built in areas where major roadways are available for easy admittance and departures. The area around the stadium should have large parking lots. This hunk of concrete and steel had neither . With our weather conditions one of the major considerations should of been parking... I have parked down at the waterfront on many occassions and walked in snowy slushy streets and sidewalks to arrive at the stadium soaking wet...now sit down for a couple of hours in wet clothes...NO Thanks !!
    ,,, what should be done???? Suggestion:
    Sell the location to a oil company and they will tear down the stadium and built their highrise in the location... could possible workout some deal to get in addition to top dollar for the stadium and
    get some consessions to build a new multiplex stadium like the 4 plex in Monction... Would be more beneficial then what we have now... just a thought.
    obw... build it up around Kelsey drive area off the major roads and lots of parking... my two cents worth

  • jeff
    July 01, 2010 - 19:44

    Has anyone looked at their events calendar for the past 2 yrs? What a joke, the place is empty 90% of the time. With the exception of Elton John, what milestones have Gerry and his crew accomplished? Cirque de Soleil part 2 was a flop. Rick Springfiled? Art Garfunkel? Embarrassing. And then of course, we have the endless list of cancelled performances such as Lenny Kravitz, Ludakris and Karl Wolff. The only $ SJSE managed to save came from overhauling Mile One's management team. Maybe the real problem should be overhauled (aka. SJSE)

  • Amazed
    July 01, 2010 - 19:44

    Sure, it's not to hard to save money on a building only open for events every blue moon. Turn off the lights and turn down the heat when you go out. :)

    Get a hockey team for the friggin' place! WE are not a concert hotspot on any tour managers radar. If we were then a ahockey team wouldn't be needed, but one would think a main tenant ( not screwed over by council) would bring in some cash.

  • Marty
    July 01, 2010 - 19:44

    I have to laugh at all you people who say sell the place to private as if they would do any better. With the exception of a few, there no such thing as PRIVATE enterprise in Newfoundland, because without government grants and purchase they'd never survive. Yeah, The FOG DEVILS .. 'NUFF SAID!