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ROBIN SHORT: Empty, pricey and now leaky

Team Canada’s Rebecca Johnston scored in overtime in the championship game to give the Canadians a 3-2 win over the U.S. in the 2010 4 Nations Cup which was held at Mile One Centre. We haven’t seen much in the line of sports entertainment like that lately at the downtown St. John’s rink.
Team Canada’s Rebecca Johnston scored in overtime in the championship game to give the Canadians a 3-2 win over the U.S. in the 2010 4 Nations Cup which was held at Mile One Centre. We haven’t seen much in the line of sports entertainment like that lately at the downtown St. John’s rink.

Mile One Centre is hardly busy, expensive to rent, and now money is floating away

So let’s get this straight: 58 grand floats through the door at Mile One Centre, and no one knows where it is, right?

The cops weren’t summoned, because, well, there were no signs of “wrongdoing”. Why, then, was city council, I’m told, advised by a staffer within the finance department that there was “definitely theft” when discrepancies over a five-year period, from 2012 to 2016, were first uncovered?

So now, not only is Mile One the most underutilized, most expensive general skating rink/gym in the country, money apparently is gobbled up by the Zamboni, along with the snow and ice.

To be perfectly clear, there are no fingers being pointed here.

But the reaction of the $58,089 missing from the building’s coffers is as much puzzling as it is shocking.

“We’ll be sure to implement more stringent accounting measures going forward,” seems to be the party line.

I suppose the good news is auditors did manage to find $56,774.35. But that’s hardly cause for celebration or a pat on the back.

There are so many questions, we hardly know where to start.

But let’s give it a shot.

How is it not one, but two accounting firms didn’t find the missing money earlier? And why weren’t the police called in from the outset, at the urging of one city councillor?

We’re told the cops were held off, as senior staff at the city and St. John’s Sports and Entertainment needed to gather all pertinent information before making the call.

Fair enough.

We can only now assume that, according to Mayor Danny Breen, “our internal audit staff have found no evidence of any wrongdoing,” so as a result there is no pestering the RNC.

Fine, but I’m if at the helm, and $58,000 up and vanishes, I’m calling the police.

Most companies, I think, would do so.

An update on the Mile One cash caper was submitted to senior staff on Sept. 22, four days before the municipal election.

The council at the time, our spies tell us, was not advised of the update.

So inquiring minds want to know: was this done on purpose, with the thinking it would be easier to skate it by a rookie council that’s not entirely apprised of the matter, a council not likely to mix it up in their early stages of the game?

Just wonderin’.

Since May 1, Mile One Centre, the most expensive facility of its kind to rent in eastern Canada (http://www.thetelegram.com/sports/robin-short-mile-ones-not-very-busy-but-it-is-very-pricey-132499/), has had exactly 10 events, as listed on its events calendar.

This, a building that once staged a Skate Canada International, 4 Nations Cup women’s hockey championship, four World Curling Tour Grand Slam events, a Canadian midget hockey championship, four NHL exhibitions, an NBA exhibition (well, almost, but we won’t go down that road again) and a Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

Of course, the Brier was held last year, and a splendid success it was. The building never looked better, the Convention Centre was alive, St. John’s as a whole did a bang-up job, and a great time was had by all.

But the curling is the only sports event we’ve seen at the rink in two years, aside from the St. John’s IceCaps.

Now, she’s gone dark, save for 20-odd nights of pro basketball, which was laid at the building’s front door.

That $58,000 probably could have come in handy to pay the light bill. I suspect 20 games of basketball and general skating won’t cut it.

 

IN SHORT

Not sure what Barry Trotz was thinking this week, but the Washington Capitals coach was a tad off the mark mentioning Auston Matthews in the same breath as Mario Lemieux. “If he was playing 20 years ago, we’d be saying he’s Mario Lemieux-like,” Trotz told reporters. “He’s tall, he skates great, he’s got unbelievable hands, and a hockey IQ and he’s strong on the puck.” Fair enough, but to suggest to Leafs’ young star is in the same company as one of the top three or four players to ever play the game is over the top … News: Newfoundland pulls out of Allan Cup play. Reaction: Ho hum. The Allan Cup is a shell of its former self. Sign up and you’re in. No playdowns anymore. The Canadian senior hockey championship holds so much weight now that it’s played in towns across the country that make Torbay look like a metropolis. The 2017 tournament was staged in Bouctouche, N.B. (population 1,722) and next year, Rosetown, Sask. (pop. 2,331) is the site of the Allan Cup. The tournament was a huge expense that Newfoundland hockey teams no longer need to incur …

 

Robin Short is The Telegram’s Sports Editor. He can be reached by email rshort@thetelegram.com Follow him on Twitter @TelyRobinShort

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