Renaissance Online Magazine Sports

FEBRUARY 2000 | VOL. 4, NO. 2



SPORTS

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MARC CIAMPA, a native of St. Albert, Alberta, Canada is the staff sports writer for Renaissance Online Magazine. A student at the University of Alberta, Ciampa is the public relations coordinator for the St. Albert Saints and writes a weekly article in the Edmonton Sun on junior hockey during the winter. During the summer he runs the official Calgary Cannons website.




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During the 1990s, American taxpayers spent $5.2 billion on major league arenas, stadiums and ballparks and at least 13 of the NHL's 22 U.S. franchises pay no property taxes. Some have been given new arenas and/or received the land it is built on for free.

In Canada, the Ottawa Senators built their arena with their own money, and then were forced to pay, in full, the price of the connecting on-ramps for vehicles to enter the arena. The Montreal Canadiens funded construction of the Molson Centre on their own but because the arena is located downtown, they were forced to pay the city several million dollars in lost parking meter revenue due to the disturbance as a result of the construction.

No matter which way you look at it, the government's subsidy made complete sense. It benefitted the taxpayer because of the revenue the teams generate, and it benefitted all those involved with a "spin-off" job. Most importantly, however, it helped to preserve the game of hockey in Canada.

Enter government logic.

The Government of Canada felt that due to the objections of a very vocal minority, whose own research could be considered minimal when compared to the millions the government had already spent looking into the matter, they decided to revoke the subsidy plan only three days after announcing it.

"On Tuesday morning, I put forward a proposal regarding the Canadian franchises in the National Hockey League," said Manley in a statement that seemed eerily prepared about a week before the initial plan was released. "This proposal would work only if the federal government, provincial governments, municipal governments and the NHL participated.

"We now have clear, negative views from the public, the provinces and many of the municipalities. Therefore, I am announcing today, on behalf of the federal government, that this proposal is dead, and we will not be pursuing the issue any further."

It is a shame, Mr. Manley, that the Canadian government did not respond to negative public feedback when it decided not to eliminate the 7% Goods and Services Tax as promised after it was elected.

"Canadians have made their views known on taxpayers' assistance to professional hockey," Manley continued. "My caucus colleagues have echoed their constituents' opinions. And the prime minister and I want them to know today that this government listens and takes their views very seriously."

A cynic would believe that the whole situation was a sham and the government never really planned to give out the money anyway. A story that coincidentally came up at approximately the same time as the NHL issue-one that involved the Federal Government losing track of over $1 billion in grants-might back up that argument.

Personally, I don't think the government is clever enough to pull off something like that. Because first off, how smart could a government that loses track of a billion dollars be, and second, how smart could a government be that doesn't see the enormous impacts -- emotionally and financially -- professional hockey has in Canada?

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