Balsillie Unveils Plan for Copps Coliseum

Earlier today, Research In Motion founder and co-CEO Jim Balsillie fired another shot in the media war to move the Phoenix Coyotes to Southern Ontario, when he unveiled his plans to renovate Copps Coliseum, the venue that would become the home of the Coyotes if and when Balsillie gained control of the team. ↵

↵Beside plenty of pretty pictures of the sort we're used to seeing when team owners come to local governments asking for public funds to build new arenas, Balsillie also reminded everyone of the established price tag on the renovations first estimated in 2007: $150 million. That means adjusting for inflation from then to whenever the project begins. And as the release reminds us: "The estimate could vary significantly based on timelines, approvals and access to the facility for construction purposes." ↵

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↵Which of course means it's going to cost a whole lot more. ↵

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↵In general, I'm not opposed to public financing of stadiums and arenas. What I am annoyed about is when such projects are touted as engines of economic development, when just about every legitimate study on the subject has concluded that just isn't the case. What we all need to do is look at these sorts of projects as what they actually are: luxuries. And like any luxury, that means casting a cold eye on the question as to whether or not your local government can actually afford the expenditure. ↵

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↵In Hamilton, I'm sure the locals are going to clamber on board, and given the support a team could expect in hockey-mad Southern Ontario, I don't doubt that it will be a roaring success. But when you see local governments hesitate when it comes to fronting the cash for a new development, know that it's because times are tight, and promises to be that way for quite some time to come. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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