Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Did Alberta Taxpayers fund the Oilers Dressing Room Renovations?

Edmonton Castle Downs MLA Thomas Lukaszuk said financial support isn't out of the question, but he doubts Edmontonians believe the arena is a top spending priority for the capital, regardless of what the study concludes.

"The report is not looking at taxpayers' priorities -- it's looking from a Northlands perspective, from an NHL perspective, from a downtown revitalization perspective," the Tory MLA said.

The provincial government put up millions of dollars in grants to build the former Northlands Coliseum in the 1970s, and Calgary's Saddledome in the 1980s. And only last year, each venue got more provincial dollars for upgrades, including $10 million for Rexall Place that helped renovate the Oilers' and visitors' dressing rooms


Story can be read here

Ridiculous.

Absolutely ridiculous.

7 comments:

mike w said...

Sheesh. Nice find there, PJO.

I always wondered why the Oilers paid for a new dressing room amid a new-arena campaign which included bad-mouthing the building.

Turns out they didn't.

PunjabiOil said...

A further discussion from HF reveals this likely came out of Lottery funds - which is more of a tax on the stupid - that however does not excuse it.

The questions remain:

1) Why did the government give a 10M grant to Northlands?
2) That too, why an unconditional grant?
3) There are plenty of other NPO that can better use this money. What pressing needs did Northlands have?
4) Why in the blue hell were the EIG/LaForge shamelessly taking credit for the dressing renovations?

SEE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjFqZYfMN2Q&feature=related

docweb said...

But hey...all is heavenly with the Alberta government. Did they not just receive an even larger majority than before??

andy grabia said...

There was mention of money going to the arenas in the 2nd Quarter Update in November of 06. I posted on it at the time, with no idea of what it was being spent on. I wonder if this is part of it.

heed said...

the licensing agreement between the eig and northlands dictates that northlands is responsible for all capital expenditures regarding the building. the oilers pay $1 for the license plus approximately $1M for operating costs per year. i would think the dressing room would fall under the "capital expenditures" category. the actual dressing room renovations was $3M. without actually seeing the 2007 annual report for northlands, i wouldn't be comfortable drawing a linkage between the two.

Scott said...

I emailed Jason Markusoff who wrote the article about the source of funds and he said:

"This $10 million was first announced, broadly, by Klein's finance minister in November 2006, as another burst of surplus dollars were reported just before Klein was to retire. Other beneficiaries of that binge were Saddledome, Commonwealth, McMahon Stadium and the Calgary Olympic facilities. Stelmach upheld that commitment in last year's budget. It came out of the province's capital account."

It doesn't sound to me like the money for the arena(s) came from a lottery. I'm also not sure if this means that it paid for the dressing rooms, but we do know that a lot of public money went into various sports venues from the Alberta tax coffers in the recent past.

The Finance Alberta website has the following to say:

"The increase includes one-time funding of $280 million over two years for the new Major Community Facilities Program to provide grants supporting community public-use facilities. The increase also includes funding for the Calgary Stampede, Edmonton Northlands, Calgary's Pengrowth Saddledome and McMahon Stadium, Edmonton's Rexall Place and Commonwealth Stadium, and the province's commitment to fund 25 per cent, up to $69 million, of the Calgary Olympic Development Association's proposed capital renewal project."

and:

"Grants totalling $80 million in 2007-08 to the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede, Edmonton Northlands, Pengrowth Saddledome, Rexall Place, McMahon Stadium and Commonwealth Stadium"

Given that the grant was given in order to benefit Rexall Place, it seems more than likely that public money did indeed go to fund the new dressing rooms. I feel comfortable making that link without seeing the Northlands report, although seeing the report would of course be preferable. Unfortunately, I was unable to find the 2007 financial statements for Northlands, but was able to find the 2006 financial statements, which also included this tid-bit of information on page 36:

"The City of Edmonton has committed over $11 million for improvements to Rexall Place (reviewed annually) over an 8-year period, 2006-13."

Rexall Place is receiving a lot of public money and I can't imagine that Norhtlands spent more than $11 million overall in 2007 (10 million from the province and 1 and change from the city if I've understood the above correctly) on renovations, but I could be wrong about that. Also, on page 40:

"Since 1998 the City has provided a $2.4 million annual grant to partially fund the operating costs of Rexall Place."

I think this should bring the running total, unless I'm misunderstanding something, to about $13.5 million of public money in 2007, that was given to Rexall Place, somewhere around $11.1 million for capital expenditures, and another $2.4 million in operational costs.

This isn't to say that's a bad thing. Yay for concerts, and yay for the Oilers and yay for world-class curling events in Edmonton! I'm just not sure that what we need to be paying for is new dressing rooms, and while the 2006 report does not explicitly include it in its upcoming projects in the report, as I said before, it seems very unlikely to me that they would have spent over $11 million on renovations.

Sorry for the long post, but I thought that I would get some figures all down in one place where they will probably be seen.

PunjabiOil said...

Thanks for the informative research Scott