Although I’m a native of Woodbridge Ontario and now live in the great city of Toronto I still felt inclined to write about the proposed NHL hockey arena that will be housed in Markham Ontario. After all, its preliminary name is GTA and I do service the Greater Toronto Area as a Realtor.
As a Ontario tax payer I have some questions for the Mayor of Markham and I expect the Honorable Frank Scarpitti to be completely transparent when answering. I took it upon myself to ask the Mayor two questions via Twitter in which he decided to only answer the latter. My first question was geared towards knowing what's in it for the developer that is donating the proposed lands plus 165 million dollars which equates to half the cost to build the new rink. The second question was where the remaining monies were coming from since the Mayor has insisted that no tax payer money will be used to finance the project. The Mayor decided to dodge my first question but was more than happy to answer where the remaining funds would be coming from, he states that there will be levies imposed to all future land development in the surrounding area. For example- when a buyer of a new home, condo or a condo within the GTA centre will be obligated to pay as part of the purchase price an added tax or levy as the Mayor calls it. The structure is as follows- $5000 per house, $2000 per condo and $4500 for a condo within the Markham complex. Does this sound fair that new home buyers are essentially financing half of this project?
The other part of this whole thing goes back to the developer and what's in it for them? Since, they are not a publicly traded company they are not obligated to full disclosure. This is the part that puzzles me the most.
It dawned on me that you don't really need to be a rocket scientist to figure it out. The developer might have first dibs to form an ownership group in the event the NHL does want to expand to the GTA plus other perks like expediting building permits for any future development on land that has been banked from prior years. If that's the case than the question should be is it ethical? I'll leave you the reader to answer that for yourself.
It should be noted that at the time this post was written that the city of Markham has not yet passed the construction of the GTA Centre but has passed the building's site. Which again makes me wonder why rush in voting where the site will be? Is it not more logical to vote first if the city is in favour of the idea all together and then vote on the site?
Other questions must be asked about this project like- if the LA Clippers, LA Lakers and the LA Kings all play in the same area why couldn't a new NHL team play out of the Air Canada Centre with the Leafs and Raptors? Also why would any city invest in an arena without at the very least a letter of intent from the NHL that they would be granted an NHL franchise in the near future? It makes no sense to me.
When in business, sometimes tough decisions must be made, but smart business people calculate risk when making those decisions, nothing about this real estate deal cause that's what this really is, a real estate deal seems like was based on calculated risk.
I'll leave it for you decide if this deal reeks of any wrongdoing.