Council approves AHL deal

Dave Bartlett
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Agreement will be low risk to city taxpayers says councillor

Ward 1 St. John’s City Coun. Danny Breen (left) the city’s representative on the board of directors of St. John’s Sports and Entertainment (SJSE) and Mayor Dennis O’Keefe chat following their announcement the city and SJSE reached a deal on the American Hockey League to play out of Mile One Centre this fall. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

The vote was unanimous. On Thursday, St. John’s City Council approved in principle the lease agreement that will bring professional hockey back to the city.

The day before, former premier Danny Williams announced he had reached a tentative deal with the owners of the American Hockey League’s Manitoba Moose to relocate the team to St. John’s.

At that time, Williams and Ward 1 Coun. Danny Breen — who represents the city on the board of St. John’s Sports and Entertainment (SJSE) — told reporters a lease agreement for Mile One Centre had also been negotiated in principle.

While the league has to sign off on the deal, the city has now given its blessing to the lease agreement.

“We are extremely pleased that Danny Williams and his partners were able to broker this deal to bring AHL hockey back to St. John’s,” Breen told reporters.

“One of (SJSE’s) main goals over the last few years has been to attract a professional hockey team to the city and we couldn’t be more pleased that it’s finally happened.”

According to Breen, the deal will keep the city’s Mile One subsidy at the current $1.25-million level.

“We are dealing with taxpayers’ money, and we wanted to minimize the risk involved in putting taxpayers’ money into this,” he said.

St. John’s Mayor Dennis O’Keefe, who is not yet back to work full-time after having heart surgery, said he left tests at the hospital to be part of the announcement.

“Council laid down the principle for SJSE a while ago, that we would only have pro hockey ...  in this city if it did not cost taxpayers any money,” added O’Keefe.

 

Details still have to be worked out … Continued from page A1

“We hope that in the coming years, not only will that tenant landlord relationship ripen and prosper ... but in the long run it will enable us ... to reduce the subsidy,” he said.

But O’Keefe noted the city won’t be raking in huge profits from the team as it will have no ownership stake.

“If you’re going to open yourself up to taking a larger share of the profit then you also have to open up yourself to (accepting) a larger share of the (risk),” he said. “We are not prepared to subsidize hockey with tax payers’ money.”

The mayor thinks people from all over the province will come to St. John’s for games

“One of (SJSE’s) main goals over the last few years has been to attract a professional hockey team to the city and we couldn’t be more pleased that it’s finally happened.” Coun. Danny Breen

“It’s not only a city team, it’s a team ... that everybody in this province will be proud of,” he said.

When quizzed on the financial details of the agreement, Breen said people would have to wait.

“Once we finalize the details, we’ll be releasing them, but we won’t be doing that until the agreement is completed,” he said.

Breen said many details still have to be worked out.

But he did say the team will pay Mile One a fixed annual fee “which will not change regardless of the level of attendance.”

The team and SJSE has also reached a revenue sharing agreement on food and beverage sales at Mile One.

The term of the current agreement would be for three years, with the team having the option to extend the agreement for an additional year.

“We’re bringing in a team here that’s going to make a $10 million (annual) economic impact on the City of St. John’s,” Breen said, noting the province stands to gain a half-a-million dollars yearly in the form of tax revenue.

A number of other councillors attended the announcement, many saying they have faith in the venture because of Williams’ involvement.

Coun. Tom Hann said it was a good deal.

“My main concern always has been the (city) of St. John’s would not be investing tax payers’ dollars into a professional hockey team. With this deal we accomplished that,” he said.

Ward 4 Coun. Debbie Hanlon said she’d be lining up for her tickets.

“I think it’s going to have a great economic impact on the city, but even more I think it’s going to be great (for) our morale,” she said. “A lot of people want hockey.”

Ward 2 Coun. Frank Galgay represents the downtown area.

“It’s going to bring increased vitality and life to the downtown,” he said, noting it would be good for bars, restaurants, gift shops and hotels.

And Ward 3 Coun. Bruce Tilley was all smiles.

“Excited would be putting it lightly,” he said. “I supported the Maple Leaf team when they were here. I supported the Fog Devils. I’m a real hockey nut.”

 

dbartlett@thetelegram.com

Organizations: American Hockey League, Manitoba Moose

Geographic location: Maple Leaf

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Recent comments

  • Another Tax Payer
    June 03, 2011 - 14:07

    "William B" Hey dont get me wrong........my concern is not that a hockey team (which I will support likely buying season tickets) is going into St. John's MILE ONE. YES the spin offs are great.....my concern is that City Council is being less then completely honest ...if your giving somebody something for for less then cost and taking tax dollars to operate the building ...then there is a subsidy to this team. Dont hide behind the fact we were paying this amount already, put out the numbers of really what the team will be paying the lease agreement.....as they say "the devil is in the details"

    • William B
      June 03, 2011 - 14:33

      I see your point now...

  • Another Tax Payer
    June 03, 2011 - 11:41

    "CHRIS" I actually think you are misinformed or "hoodwinked"... We as Taxpayers SHOULD NOT be paying a $1.25 million dollar subsidy to MIle ONE. If the City is giving the Hockey Team a break on a lease and money they are being charged to "HELP THEM OUT" then YES WE the taxpayers are subsidizing the AHL team at this time. The Youth of this City do not get a deal, they pay FULL price.

    • William B
      June 03, 2011 - 12:30

      This AHL team will bring somewhere between $8,500,000 and $10,000,000 to the economy of NL. It will help fill St. John's hotels in the winter months and increase spending in St. John's (more specifically the downtown area). You are right...NL (and St. John's) should be opposed to this type of infusion into the economy and, if fact, we should hope this hockey venture fails as well as all other businesses in NL and we all just go on the dole. Do not worry, "Another Tax Payer", keep filling out your Arts Community grant. With the increased taxes going to the Governemt from the AHL , there will be no need for them to cut any of your subsidized grants.

  • Pete
    June 03, 2011 - 10:55

    Caps? Really? I'm sure Washington and Winnipeg might have something to say about giving an AHL farm team the same name as an NHL team with which it isn't affiliated.

  • Another Tax Payer
    June 03, 2011 - 09:44

    Yes your so Right the TAX PAYERS are on the hook regardless......one would think that with the new tenant it should be reduced ...with the NEW Revenue coming in from Concessions Parking ETC. And in three years YAH RIGHT the Hockey team is going to be profitable.... Not likely ......you know how DEM tax guys work....sell the building to Private Industry......let them make it work....maybe we'd have a few more potholes filled with that $1.25 million

    • Chris
      June 03, 2011 - 10:26

      You are terribly misinformed regarding this situation. I attended the press conference yesterday and the City made it quite clear that the deal that is in place is simply a landlord-tenant agreement. This is so that there is no risk involved with the team, insuring that nothing will come from the tax payers to have this team here. The subsidy for Mile One has nothing to do with the AHL team that is going to be here. As tax payers, we have to pay for that anyway. The province is going to earn money off the economic spinoffs from this, but the actual team itsself is not going to make the city any money with the exception of the lease amount or "rent" if you will, because it will still be owned by True North for the 3 year lease agreement with an option of a 4th. If the City and SJSE choses to buy the team after the lease period is up, then the team will take any profits generated from the AHL team and reinvest it into Mile One decreasing the subsidy. But for right now, with the current agreement, the only money generated is from economic spin offs and the rent that True North is paying the city for the hosting of their AHL team. The city is investing this money to pay for the costs of having the team here with any extra profits being investing in other areas for right now.

  • james
    June 03, 2011 - 08:52

    free tickets for all council members

  • chief
    June 03, 2011 - 08:44

    , "another taxpayer" so your right and ALL the city council are wrong. yeah right..give it up by.

  • Don
    June 03, 2011 - 08:13

    A no brainer for council.. Now GO CAPS GO.. Come on Danny its got to be CAPITALS.

  • Another Taxpayer
    June 03, 2011 - 07:55

    Please explain to me how this Venture is not at the Taxpayers of ST. JOHN'S EXSPENSE.????? $1.25 Million Dollar Subsidy for WHAT?? If the AHL is the new Anchor tentant why are we still on the hook for this money? Mile one is the GIFT that keeps giving to everyone but the taxpayers of this City. It's laughable that council could with a Straight face tell the taxpayers they are not on the hook for the AHL. How many free tickets are the Council going to get this year? That I would like to know.

    • Chris
      June 03, 2011 - 08:36

      You are on the hook for the $1.25 million subsidy regardless. This isn't new, you have been paying this for years to support the Mile One Center. Now with an anchor tenant in the building, once the new 3 year lease agreement with True North expires, if the team is profitable the city will start to invest back into Mile One reducing the subsidy. You should be grateful there is an anchor tenant in the building cause it means that the subsidy from the tax payers will likely decrease and hopefully disappear if the AHL is successful

  • CAPSMAN
    June 03, 2011 - 07:30

    GO CAPS GO!!!

    • Ex PC
      June 03, 2011 - 08:29

      No thanks to our provincial government . Stay away from any team festivities as you are not welcome!

  • Ron
    June 03, 2011 - 07:27

    Well there is a first time for everything. Imagine that, a unanimous vote at St. John's city hall.