In a recent issue of The Oshawa Express, I read of some of the hockey expenses that are being passed to Oshawa taxpayers. Items for use by the GM Centre are among them: a payment of $100,000 for operational funding (rising to $220,000) per year, $200,000 for interior finishes, $600,000 for a new parking lot, $820,000 for a new video score clock, $900,000 for new elevators and an unknown amount for a new compressor and air conditioning units. This funding arrangement lasts for 30 years.
I never knew that the owners of the Generals were getting this money for nothing. They merely asked for it. The owners did offer a token $60,000 per year for five years to help pay for the new clock on the condition that the owners could continue to keep all revenue from in-game advertising. This $60,000 plan was not agreed to by council.
Fast forward to Hometown Hockey over the Christmas weekend. Taxpayers are paying $60,000 to Rogers to set up their equipment to allow a Leaf game to be shown on large, outside screens at city hall. Another $60,000 is needed for Oshawa rec staff, security, equipment rentals and the waiving of fees for facility rental and a budget contingency.
An events coordinator will also be paid $25,000. Would this be Ron MacLean from Hockey Night in Canada?
In order to pay for this, council had to take $30,000 from the city’s corporate contingency fund, originally made to pay for necessary emergencies in the City of Oshawa.
The owners of the Generals should be looking after some or all of these costs, paid for by larger crowds, increased tickets prices and expensive beer and food sales. Ticket sales for each home game are nudging 6,000 fans. On an average, these fans are spending an average of $25 for each ticket and another $25 for fan clothing, spirits and food, plus other incidentals. So, 6,000 Gens fans are shelling out $300,000 each night for the games to take place, usually twice a week.
Having a high regard for city council, I cannot figure out why city taxpayers are paying these high costs. With GM jobs dwindling, it seems that these amounts being paid are not in the best interest of taxpayers.
Is anyone from council looking at the Gens’ financial books? The late and great lawyer Terry Kelly, who gave us the Civic Auditorium, was against the General Motors Centre being built. Now I know why.
Philip J. Dawson