On August 9th, 2012, GTA Sports and Entertainment chairman Graeme Roustan presented to Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti and the Markham City council a proposal to build a $325-million sports and entertainment development. Such a large commercial sports and entertainment facility is big news for our city of 310,000, yet surprisingly, it hasn’t received much attention. The arena itself will be part of the new Markham Sports, Entertainment & Cultural Centre in the new Markham downtown. The mayor believes Markham needs a true downtown with world class entertainment, pedestrian promenades, shops, restaurants, and cafes.
The group apparently hasn’t completed a marketing and advertising strategy as yet, however since the group’s plan has been approved by the City of Markham, the hype about the new arena/entertainment complex is about to explode.
Are Big Developments like this a huge waste of tax dollars? That would be anyone’s first thought about megaprojects. The Montreal Olympics still weighs heavily on Canadian taxpayers minds. That debt took decades to pay, particularly for residents of Montreal.
The new project in Markham might be different. It’s tentatively named the GTA Centre, an indication that this facility will serve the entire GTA region with its 6 million population. The development group isn’t even talking about an NHL franchise which is very possible. Roustan has experience too, as his efforts in the late 80’s lead to the creation of the San Jose Sharks. Roustan and his group cite the demand for other entertainment events including the Cirque de Soleil, who don’t have enough room down at the Air Canada Centre. Not every musical group or big event producer can get enough time at the ACC which hosts the Maple Leafs, Raptors, and other major entertainment groups. The GTA centre should fill the gap.
In a Toronto Sun report, Roustan is quoted as saying “At the end of the day, what people are going to see is that this facility is really a multi-purpose venue that will have a lot of sports, a lot of events, a lot of cultural things in it.” Roustan’s group is seeking a Canadian basketball franchise/team who would play at the GTA Centre.
In an Ottawa Citizen news article, Roustan as quoted as saying, “When we did the feasibility studies, our business plan worked on a model with a minimum of 131 dates a year,” Roustan said. “The Greater Toronto Area has 6-7 million people and it’s growing by 150,000 people a year.”
NHL Team in Markham?
The idea of an NHL team in Markham isn’t outlandish. Although the Toronto Maple Leafs would try to veto any attempt to access its incredibly lucrative market, there are plenty of struggling NHL franchises with owners who would like to move to Markham. The NHL strike is pushing them to the edge of financial ruin, so Markham may look too good to pass up on.
This is golden country for any NHL team that would exist here. GTA area residents can’t get enough hockey and Toronto fans would enjoy watching other NHL teams coming to the Markham rink. It’d be great for a lot of hockey fans who have to go to Ottawa, Montreal, or Buffalo to watch NHL games. A lot of hockey fans don’t like the Toronto Maple Leaf franchise, perennial losers for over 4 decades with no signs of a change in sight.
With respect to the media, another team in the GTA area represents a lot of content for TV, Internet, newpaper, and radio audiences. That’s new content to help sell a lot of advertising.
The GTA Sports and Entertainment is putting up half of the 332 million dollar investment while Markham would foot the rest of the bill. (Under the financial framework, over 90% of the $325 million Centre will be privately funded). Markham’s investment would be covered by leaseback agreement, ticket taxes, and parking fees. There would other spin off benefits for restaurants, transit use, and local sports merchandise stores.
The City of Markham is growing with plenty of land available to sustain continuous business and population growth. The addition of the GTA Centre should have a positive impact on local Markham businesses.
What do you think of the plan to build this major entertainment centre here in Markham? Will your business benefit? Will it create jobs and build excitement about the city of Markham? Do you believe in the new transit corridor on Highway 7? What is your vision of Markham heading toward 2020?
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