VNV Calls For Review of the Financing of BC Place Stadium Upgrade and Roof Construction

Vancouver Not Vegas Calls For a Review of the Financing of the BC Place Stadium Upgrade and Roof Construction

BC Place Roof
Photo of BC Place model, by Dustin Sacks from the Flickr Creative Commons

Vancouver, September 30, 2011

Vancouver Not Vegas calls for a Review of the financing of the BC Place Stadium up grade and roof construction.

“We don’t know the reason the provincial government departed from the normal practice of securing substantial private sector funding for a project of this nature, and chose to under-write all costs,” says Sandy Garossino, co-founder of Vancouver Not Vegas. “But the timeline of events strongly suggests that the government found the necessary capital for the retractable roof option by instituting devastating cuts to charities and non-profits.”

Major urban stadiums are normally funded primarily through private sector contributions.

• Toronto’s SkyDome was 16% publicly funded, 31 corporations funded the balance;

• Cowboy Stadium in Dallas was 28% publicly funded following a public referendum, with the teams and corporate sponsors providing the balance.

• BC Place Stadium is 100% publicly funded. There has been no disclosure of the business plan supporting this level of public investment.

In the summer of 2009 the provincial cabinet was struggling with cost containment on the stadium roof, because estimates had nearly tripled from when the project was first proposed only one year earlier.

Liberal donor, former BC Lottery Corporation (BCLC) chair and Edgewater representative Richard Turner threatened to withdraw Edgewater’s participation if cabinet did not approve the retractable roof.

In this same period Rich Coleman was minister responsible for BCLC and for gaming grant distribution. He moved in the summer of 2009 to seize $36 million in budgeted and committed gaming grants, and institute long-term cuts that would provide another $200 million over 6 years to the government.

“The public needs to know that financing of the roof construction was conducted in a responsible manner that best serves the interests of all British Columbians province-wide. Until these questions are answered, it seems that financing decisions were driven by the interests of Liberal donors and the Edgewater Casino,” says Lindsay Brown, co-founder of Vancouver Not Vegas.

For more information on the stadium roof, its history and financing, please see our stadium roof post and a detailed timeline.

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3 responses to “VNV Calls For Review of the Financing of BC Place Stadium Upgrade and Roof Construction

  1. Seriously? BC Place is OWNED by the government and run by PAVCO. That’s why it’s public money on the table for the roof.

  2. Seriously, anonymous “Bob”? If the stadium roof is a public project, why no business plan? Why not publish the details of its financing with the public’s money? Why not disclose which private parties are benefiting from hundreds of millions of dollars in risk, offloaded onto the public, that they are too lame and stupid to take on themselves? Your simple answer betrays the workings of a simple mind that is easily deceived. No wonder you are too embarrassed to make your real name public.

  3. Sandy Garossino

    Interesting point Bob. Though title to the underlying equity (land, structures, improvements) is rarely material to these deals because title to the real estate is not the attraction for private partners. It’s illiquid, it depreciates and it doesn’t generate continuing value over time.

    To a private partner, the value and attraction in a stadium enterprise is in sponsorships, broadcast rights, leaseholds on luxury boxes for corporate entertainment and a host of other intangible but highly valuable (and tradable) assets. This can easily be severed from the real estate. In fact, as a separate asset class, it should be.

    The question is why nothing was done to secure those partnerships, and the answer is in the timing.

    The stadium deal came together in the summer and fall of 2009 when two factors dominated the Vancouver economic climate: a catastrophic global economic crisis, and the approaching 2010 Olympics. There was huge uncertainty and nobody had any cash on hand to participate in a stadium deal for 2011 opening. Companies interested in sports related corporate entertainment were already tapped out paying for the 2010 Olympics. And no MLS franchise deal had been inked.

    Responsible oversight probably should have delayed proceeding on Phase 2 of the stadium upgrade (ie, the roof) until these conditions resolved themselves.

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