Williams warns AHL deal for St. John’s could slip away

Robin Short
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Mile One Stadium in St. John’s. — Telegram file photo

Winnipeg celebrated the return of the National Hockey League Tuesday after 15 years when the sale of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg’s True North Sports and Entertainment was finally announced, with the Thrashers relocating to the Manitoba capital in time for the 2011-12 NHL season.

In St. John’s Tuesday, Danny Williams was hoping St. John’s could celebrate a return to the American Hockey League after six years. Instead, the former premier said he and his group were “scrambling” to nail down a deal.

Williams and former St. John’s Maple Leafs director of operations Glenn Stanford have been negotiating with True North for weeks, hoping to relocate the Manitoba Moose to St. John’s where that team would become the farm club to the new NHL team.

The deal on this end hit a snag last week when the provincial government rejected a proposal from St. John’s Sports and Entertainment, operators of Mile One Centre, for $500,000 annually, which would be used towards travel costs.

“We are going to be required to respond virtually right away,” Williams said Tuesday, following the long-anticipated announcement in Winnipeg. “I’m not talking seconds or minutes or hours, but it will be a very, very short time frame. This could slip away on us very easily.”

Williams said the leasing fee for the team — True North would remain the owner — in addition to the lease for Mile One and travel costs has expenditures in excess of $3 million.

“If we can’t nail those down, and lock those away in reasonable prices, this deal simply doesn’t happen,” he said.

For more click here for Robin Short's column Sports Scene


Organizations: National Hockey League, American Hockey League, Atlanta Thrashers True North Sports Maple Leafs Manitoba Moose

Geographic location: Winnipeg, Manitoba

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page



Recent comments

  • Energy that could have been used on the Fishery
    June 01, 2011 - 17:05

    I just wish there was as much interest from ex-Premier Williams, when he was Premier, and those commenting on this site today to have gotten the Fishing Resource back into great health. A healthy fishery would be very capable of pumping Billions of Dollars annually, directly and indirectly back into the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador. An AHL Hockey Team might have the ability to break even, if that. Something is the matter with our manner of thinking! Make no wonder the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador is as skewed as it is today with the ironing of being a 'have' status province, the highest unemployment rate in the country and very few jobs. Some thought needs to be applied to what is happening, is anyone taking notice?

  • trouty
    June 01, 2011 - 14:31

    too the morons wondering why no other marritime province is stepping up use google or yahoo to research,lets see PEI has a team the Rocket ,Nova Scotia has 2 Qmjhl teams Halifax Mosseheads and Cape Breten Screaming eagles,New Brunswick has 3 Qmjhl teams Moncton Wildcats,Saint John Sea Dogs(who by the way entered the league with the Fog Devils and just won the Qmjhl and Memorial Cup,but people here gave the Devils zero chance to develop and wanted a champion out of expansion) so why would those 3 want another team honestly.We are the only province in Canada with no REAL sports team weather it be AHL QMJHL why not turn Mile One into a supermarket Sobeys is what it will be in 5 yrs if we dont put the sport that the building was built for in it.Its a hockey rink

    June 01, 2011 - 13:57

    GO CAPS GO!!!

  • Bring Da Moose
    June 01, 2011 - 13:28

    For everyone who is in support of the Moose coming to "the Rock" please support our grassroots movement on Facebook www.facebook.com/bringdamoose, by visiting us at www.bringdamoose.com or follow us on twitter @bringdamoose. Let's show everyone that matters how many fans are willing to support bringing pro hockey back to Newfoundland and Labrador! We've had hundred sign up in a matter of hours so please stand and be counted! Thanks in advance for your support!

  • Bring Da Moose
    June 01, 2011 - 13:25

    For everyone who is in support of the Moose coming to "the Rock" please support our grassroots movement on Facebook www.facebook.com/bringdamoose, by visiting us at www.bringdamoose.com or follow us on twitter @bringdamoose. Let's show everyone that matters how many fans are willing to support bringing pro hockey back to Newfoundland and Labrador! We've had hundred sign up in a matter of hours so please stand and be counted! Thanks in advance for your support!

  • chief
    June 01, 2011 - 13:21

    " Bussiness Anal-yst , you can't see the trees for the woods. Jobs peroid, are better than welfare. this is an investment, and too big crowds down town causing resturants to lose bussiness.. are you friggin serious???. man .... make no wonder we're called stupid newfies.

  • Shack
    June 01, 2011 - 13:09

    Danny and his cronies are using the NL government as a scapegoat. The Manitoba Moose are going to Abbotsford. Done deal !!

  • Tommy
    June 01, 2011 - 12:58

    For those pointing to part-time service industry jobs... A team would create at least 15-20 full-time positions. For instance, the team will have marketing and sales departments, hockey operations, etc. People will come up with anything to shoot this idea down. I'm sorry but you guys are just wrong.

  • Mr. T
    June 01, 2011 - 12:57

    Why don't the business's who will reap the benefits from this team 'pony up' with some cash, Bar owners, Restaurants, Golf Couses, Hotels, City of St. John's etc. etc.

  • Bob
    June 01, 2011 - 12:40

    This issue just reeks of typical Newfoundland negative attitude. No wonder we are continued to be looked apon lowly by others and NO wonder why Danny Williams had to act as a "tyrant" to get anything positive done in this province during his tenure in government. Like everything else we are subjected to negativitiy, critiscism, hypocracy, lack of leadership, and most of all uneducated complaints from the general public that range from 5 year old like arguing over they get this and we dont to simple lack of common knowledge. The government gives the club 500g to help operate. The Spin off gives the government back its money and then some. So the community improves and they still have 500g plus to sink into something else. But no we dont want postive community and economic building we want to sink 7m into the Republic of Doyle b/c its split second shot of the harbour brings us tourists. Yeah right. How come no one is up and arms about fundings a CBC show that helps line the pockets of executives sitting in toronto. Its amazing how the people and especially government of Manitoba reacted to the NHL annoucement yesterday. While here in Newfoundland people have bay vrs town arguements and we dont get this and they got that arguements. Its utterly disgracefull. Perhaps is st. john's foots the bill we should only let townies watch games and avail of DT. Or perhaps St. John's should stop letting others use the Outer Ring Road or collecting mt pearls garbage etc. We just cant see a common goal. Get with it, the AHL is good for St. John's, Its good for the province. Its not effecting tax payers dollars. But what it is effecting again is the way we look as newfoundlanders and that is poor. Heres a suggestion, give the team its money and then with the tax profits the govt makes use it to education Newfoundlanders on simple economics so we dont have to listen to this again. ANywhere else in the country the entire population would be supportive and estatic but not here. OH and finnally before i continue to ramble on b/c this issue is so frustration. What kind of support does the government give to amatuer sport? NIlche

    • dumbfounded
      June 01, 2011 - 13:48

      Thank you Bob!!!!!!! My sentiments exactly!! People are just bitter because it's Danny Williams...most of these posters wouldn't be so up and arms if it were anyone else trying to bring a team here..

    • Bob too.
      June 01, 2011 - 13:57

      BOB says "anywhere else in the country they'd be estatic over this". How come none of the other three Maritime Province are interested? Enlighten us Bob please. Now you were saying...

    • Matt
      June 01, 2011 - 14:15

      BOB TOO ... all 3 maritime provinces already have hockey teams in the QMJHL... Titans, Screaming Eagles, Mooseheads, Rocket, Sea Dogs & Wildcats. That would mean each of these cities already have an anchor tenant in thier arenas. Enlightened enough??

  • Brent
    June 01, 2011 - 12:29

    I say pay the money, bring the team, and the ticket sales will pay for it all in the end. I'd do it if I was able to!

  • Jaret Manuel
    June 01, 2011 - 12:25

    Support the drive to bring the AHL Manitoba Moose to St. John's Newfoundland. http://puckdrop.ca/blog/2011/06/support-the-drive-to-bring-the-ahl-manitoba-moose-to-st-johns-newfoundland/ Thanks, @Puckdrop (JaretManuel)

  • mary
    June 01, 2011 - 12:21

    Williams is playing the media on this one, getting over the top statements out there. He is playing a game and I don't like that he is doing that with the people of this province. He goes from whining that he is being shut out to bragging about how much he gave this province..... He needs to grow up.

  • Pay your own way
    June 01, 2011 - 12:11

    I agree with Handout! $500,000 to help with "travel costs"? GIVE ME A BREAK!!!! There are many other worthwhile causes out there that would benefit Newfoundland as a whole instead of subsidizing travel expenses for a team who's salaries are far greater than most of us could ever hope to earn...and very few of us get any compensation to the cost of going back and forth to "work". If there's any money to be alloted by our government to cover "travel costs", it ought to be toward travel costs for patients having to travel outside the province for medical treatments not available here. Has Danny forgotten the plight of many Newfoundlanders outside the overpass who now have to travel to larger centres to get simple x-rays or blood work done, that just a couple years ago they could avail of in their own communities? Many of these people are seniors and people on fixed incomes. Where's the travel subsidy for these people? How about putting it into a break at the pumps on the gas tax? That would be a good place to start - something that would benefit all NL residents! Yes, I know in that case $500,000 would only be a drop in the bucket, but at least it would be something we could all benefit from. Good on you, Ms Dunderdale. There are many things in government I don't agree with, but the position taken on this is one that gets my full support.

    • dumbfounded
      June 01, 2011 - 13:50

      you must be living around the poverty line...get a grip, not everything has to go toward health care..this province has little entertainment compared to most...they need this

  • EnoughAlready
    June 01, 2011 - 11:35

    Haven't we all had enough talk about keeping the residents of our province safe from the "Moose". From fenced highways to "no money to subsidize pro hockey", who new "Moose" would be the worst possible word to ever be spoken in these parts? Maybe, after this is all said and done and Mile One once again becomes the oversized Arts and Culture Center it was built to be, our Premier (and the other open mided people in Government) may want to get to work on keeping the "Moose" off our higways as well. Here's to a Moose/Free NL

  • onlooker
    June 01, 2011 - 11:22

    The more I read about the AHL and the return of the NHL to Winnipeg the more I am convinced the governement was correct in its denial of an annual funding subsidy for AHL. This is businees deal the same as any other business deal that generates spinoffs. This deal doesn't create any full time long term employment for our citizens. The playyers get their salaries, the investors get the profit, as they should. Therefore, let the investors find corporate /private money they need for this venture and let them reap the benefits. It is too risky a business for such a small return for the government to involve itself in handing out ANNUAL subsidies from my tax dollars. The province of Manitoba is not subsidizing the NHL team even though they support the concept. If Mr Williams and his group want to have the AHL here maybe they can ask the Thompson family, True North or Ted Turner to invest. Don't ask me for my tax dollars. I think the Williams group mistakenly figured that the $500 000 ask would be a piece of cake and the arrogance of it all is that, from what I read, there wasn't even a detailed business plan to accompany the request. No wonder it took the government such a short time to say NO! The spin that is being put out there now by the Williams group is that the provincial government won't cooperate with the municiapal government which is a crock. The CIty of St John's is NOT financially supporting this business venture either! The city of St. John's didn't ask the government for the money SJSE did, on behalf of the Williams group now it appears. Smooth move but fortunately for the taxpayers of the province our PREMIER Dunderdale "could drive a mack truck through that ploy". I have yet to hear SJSE respond to the government's refusal. Rather it is Mr. Williams who is out there talking to the media? Where is SJSE? Is Mr. Williams a board member of SJSE? Interesting question... As well it would behoove Mr. Williams to refer to Premier Dunderdale as that and not as Ms. Dunderdale. She is the Premier and it shows considerable small-mindedness and a certain meaness of spirit for him obviously to not be able to bring himself use her official title. This, unfortunately dimishes him not her. I am sure his mother taught him to more respectful than that!

  • bob
    June 01, 2011 - 11:21

    After watching the memorial cup last week I would rather see a new Major Junior team come to St. John's. Better still 2 team one for St. John's and 1 for Corner Brook in a new alignment of the now three leagues into 4 with an Atlantic division giving our minor player another level to play out there hockey days. This would reduce travel and operations costs for all involved. 2 Newfoundland teams would spark interest in hockey through out the province. Then we could say we have a CHL in Canada.

  • Support
    June 01, 2011 - 11:14

    http://puckdrop.ca/blog/2011/06/support-the-drive-to-bring-the-ahl-manitoba-moose-to-st-johns-newfoundland/ Sign the petition to support!

  • Bill, From Bay Bulls
    June 01, 2011 - 11:14

    I certianly hope that all levels of govt understand the opportunity that is in front of them. As I said in an earlier comment this is more than just brining a AHL team here to the city. This is a stepping stone for becoming a city that the IIHF and other large sporting organizations will look for venues in the future. If we loose this opportunity to bring a franchise here, Mile one and the convention center will remain white elephants to the tax payers of the city and a running joke to the rest cities in this country that have an anchor tennant in their repective arenas.

  • hockey fan
    June 01, 2011 - 11:06

    Business Analyst.... Where were you educated too, Chuckie Cheese?

    • Business Analyst
      June 01, 2011 - 12:47

      Hockey Fan, your spelling of ''too'' tells me all that I need to know about your education. Instead of throwing hockey insults at me, why not contribute to the debate and point out the reasons why our government should put public money into this silly idea? Selling a substitute product to a captive market does not generate net net income. When that substitute product must pay rents to entities outside the market being served (as in paying the owners, the league, and the players), the proposition becomes a net drain on the local economy. Your post was as useful as shouting 'go Leafs go' at your television in the hopes that they will win a Stanley cup.

  • show your support
    June 01, 2011 - 10:41

    Show our support for landing this hockey team by e-mail the premier and MHA's to help get this deal done any way they can. Look at the money that is "invested" in so many business and social ventures in this province. Notice I said "invested" because that is what this subsidy is, an investement. When you look at the increased dollars that will come to the government in payroll taxes itself, let alone the extra taxes from restaurants, hotels, merchandise, taxi's etc etc etc.....much more then the subsidy would come back to the government. Then this extra $$$ can be spend on some of the things everyone talks about spending there tax dollars, health care, roads, seniors etc....It's not a give away or handout people!! We'd get it back and then some!!! It's called a smart economic investement.....Get'r done and get the team here!!!

      June 01, 2011 - 12:54

      Would be nice to hear from someone involved with the old Leafs Booster Club. Lets get some information regarding community involvement, charitable donations and other information that may show some of the "other" benefits to having a league like the AHL in our City.

  • Business Analyst
    June 01, 2011 - 10:24

    What economic benefits will a franchise bring? Let's see, low paying part time jobs to the service industry, ticket revenues to pay the wealthy owners and players who pay taxes outside of this province, additional income tax for their lobbyist Danny, reduced income for local businesses that depend on discretionary income that will be redirected to mainlanders, increased passenger traffic for airlines reducing the availability of lower cost seats for the traveling public, congestion ion our downtown reducing business for restaurants that cater to the non-hockey crowd, etc. etc. etc. Anyone who believes that this proposal brings net economic benefit to the province is not considering the full picture. At best, it will be a marginal loss to the economy due to the bulk of ticket revenues being exported to players and owners that don't live here. Google it, there are tons of examples online that clearly show these types of investments are losers. Williams and company would be better off demonstrating the non-tangible benefits of his proposal, they're a lot more compelling.

    • Chris
      June 01, 2011 - 12:35

      Wow Business Analyst, you couldn't be more work. The salaries of those players means increased spending within the province for 9 months of the year. The argument that they will spend it elsewhere is completely invalid. From training camp to weeks or months after the post season those salaries will be in the city been spent at retailers, restaurants and other local businesses. Those visiting teams will be flying in to the city filling up vacancies which are at an all time high in the winter months. These players have to get around which means company for local bus companies like DRL to transport these players and taxi's. They have to eat at the restaurants downtown, most of which are topping out at 50% capacity on a week day evening. This means Jobs at the stadium all week long. And what about the advertising and marketing for the team. A local agency will win a big contract for that, then local printers will have to print the programs, advertising materials, etc. all of which will be money back in the province because its going to LOCAL COMPANIES. It's $500,000 this province can afford, and in the long run, the benefits that can be reaped from paying out this measly $500,000 will be visible throughout the entire province, not just St. John's I could go on for days with how flawed your statements are, but I wouldn't want to waste my breath

  • Bob
    June 01, 2011 - 10:18

    JEAN..Excuse me but it's gotten real personal. I'd love to hear the views of the sitting MHA's on this. Would they side with the former or current premier?....if in fact any one of 'em had the gonads to answer.

  • Al
    June 01, 2011 - 10:03

    This is not a Townie vs outside the overpass thing. Its wheather tax dollars should go towards supporting professional sports and my answer is no.

  • John
    June 01, 2011 - 10:02

    I wonder if St. John's has even looked at the benefits to the whole province, not just the to the city. The city would reap many benefits, not the least of which would be the number of employees, hotel nights from both the teams and tourists, hotel tax for the cities tourism arm, extra publicity by the players and visitors, etc, all in a quiet time for the tourism industry. This seems like the city is not even interested in this team which I can see as this council can't even budget for it's self and relitavely small; imagine if they had to budget even Halifax, even if they could outdo their budget policy which would be pretty hard. Both the province and the city should be looking at this venture very seriously and assess the benefits provided to each other.

  • Think seriously about this
    June 01, 2011 - 09:39

    So Robroy, you're saying that if the premier doesn't bow down to Danny, she will be shut out by the electorate. I don't think so. I think she will gain more respect for making her own decision and taking into consideration the opinion of all the citizens, not just hockey fans. Send out a sheet to all voters and have them vote for hockey or not and see what the constituents want. In regards to the other deal, she doesn't have control over what Stephen Harper does nor more than Danny did when he was premier.

  • Denise
    June 01, 2011 - 09:25

    I think that it's time to start putting the Mile One stadium to use. With the exception of concerts, it must be costing us Newfoundlanders a fortune for upkeep, maintenance, and yes, staff. Another hockey league would only benefit our province, and bring in some much needed revenue for the stadium.

  • robroy
    June 01, 2011 - 08:52

    Its deals like this one and the fact that if Premier Dunderale doesn't get a signed mou from the feds by election time, as she has stated she is expecting, that will topple the almighty PC party of nl. I am promising you premier if you don't put out you will be shut out

  • Think seriously about this
    June 01, 2011 - 08:31

    In order for the new hockey franchise to work in Winnipeg, the fans have to show their support by opening their wallets and committing to buy tickets so that the building is sold out every night. The price of the tickets will range from $39.00 to $129.00. Also, Winnipeg is re-entering the league at the most expensive time to do business. The salary cap is expected to reach more than 62 million. There is no guarantee that citizens are going to commit to buying tickets for the next three years for 13,000 seats. If this is not done, the board of governors may not vote to transfer the ownership and location to Winnipeg. Therefore, we may not even get the minor league. If the government doesn’t cough up a half-million dollars, the city better not cough it up. We have the worst roads to drive on and we couldn’t even keep a swimming pool in Victoria park in the west end of the city because it was too expensive and we also can’t keep the other swimming pools opened through Labour Day weekend. So, Danny Been don’t have wild inclinations about giving our tax money to a hockey team and then driving up our water and residential taxes to pay for it. We’re paying for a re-cycling plant and water treatment now. If Danny Williams wants to bring a hockey team, let him get for financial backers. I’m sure he is in with the right business people to make it happen. If it fails, they don’t want to be out the money, so let the province or the city take the loss which means it will fall on the backs of the citizens to make up that deficit.

  • Steve
    June 01, 2011 - 08:22

    I was listening to Randy Simms this morning, and apparantly the Premier has stated publicly that she has received only one email to her office in support of the AHL Subsidy... Anyone who is in support of this should take the time and let Premier Dunderdale know how they feel!

  • Joan
    June 01, 2011 - 08:21

    Well my opinion is that it would be good for NL to have some sort of hockey here and the revenue it would bring to this province. However who will benefit from it the most? Well according to what I am hearing it will be the businesses around the downtown St. Johns area, therefore I would suggest that the Downtown Development Corp foot the bill seeing they will benefit the most here. Restaurants and hotels and let us not forget the downtown bars. Lets see some posters displaying this message instead of the cotton club looking for ladies of the night or whatever you wanna call it.

    • Patrick Guilfoyle
      June 01, 2011 - 08:53

      Joan, you hit the hammer on the nail. The St. John's Development Corp. should foot the bill.

    • Billy
      June 01, 2011 - 12:20

      Right said!!!!!!!! the only benefiters here are the St. Johns citizens. You have the meter maids in the city who are ticketing every car they possibly can, and they will certainly ticket your car, I know one time they ticketed cars that were attending church services @ George Street Church. Bring on the hockey but let the ones who are going to gain the most pay the most... like Joan said DDC..... Really does someone from Labrador or St. Anthony or somewhere on the west coast who will probably never watch a game care about a hockey franchise in St. Johns funded by the provincial gov, using their money... and the other thing is a prov election in the fall, gee that will do wonders for a seat in the election but only if you're from the Avalon area, all other areas of the province will use this as a means not to vote for this government... so Kathy think outisde the box before you give away more money.... the Liberals will certainly use this against you.

    • Barb
      June 01, 2011 - 12:43

      RE: WILLIE HUNT Well all i have to say is his name describes his brain.. _....... WEE WILLIE WONKA_........ Lets hope that you are not the one to hit my daughter or a family member of mine with that attitude or I will be the one who will personally go after you myself and I don't mean maybe. Had a brother killed in an auto accident and its devastating to the family. So sorry for the families loss, death is never easy especially when it could have been avoided. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family.

  • Roge
    June 01, 2011 - 08:07

    Just get the deal done, whatever it takes and drop the puck here in the fall! I miss hockey here and it would be great in so many ways, the pros far out weigh the cons. Go Moose Go!!!

  • Jean
    June 01, 2011 - 07:51

    Premier, can you hear your employers (us) wanting, and our province NEEDING this?? It's a win, win deal...Admit the govt. made a mistake....This needs to be put to bed now!! It's not personal, it's business...

    • Hand in my pocket
      June 01, 2011 - 08:48

      Why is the default to look for hand outs? It's simple...there are 6250 seats and 40 nights so 250000 seat nights...take your $500k and divide it over your seat nights and that's $2/ticket. If we love hockey so much, you certainly should be willing to show it by paying an extra $2 per, right?

    • terrence patrick
      June 01, 2011 - 15:03

      Just a suggestion. I will buy a ticket even if I don't go to a game. What about a Mile One lottery. Do the math, you must know the methodology required by now. People will buy if they know they are guaranteed to get something in return. $2 dollars a ticket for a 50/50 draw each week throughout the year, province wide. Any extra or a portion of the profits could be designated to support amateur hockey. Local purchasers win every time. Sellers can be the same as already established vendors for the Atlantic Lottery draws.

  • David
    June 01, 2011 - 07:38

    This deal "slipping away" would be the best possible result for Newfoundland taxpayers.....if Danny doesn't want to see it "slip away" he should just brush the cobwebs off his famous bankbook and make a little withdrawal. Not that hard, is it Danny?

  • Bob
    June 01, 2011 - 07:26

    Robin, during your interview on The Morning Show today you heard the clip of "The Peg's" mayor state categorically his city was NOT financing backstopping the new NHL team in any shape or form. So what gives here that St. John's should be involved. There's enough money going into Andy Wells' white elephant as it is.