Vancouversoccerman Posted March 7, 2006 Share Posted March 7, 2006 'Caps owner needs a lesson in economics Iain MacIntyre, Vancouver Sun Published: Tuesday, March 07, 2006 Citizens of Vancouver, now is the time to mobilize and take action. The corporate development beast is among you, ready to devour your neighborhood -- or at least a railyard popular with, well, hopper cars and exotic wildlife like pigeons and field mice, which surely are endangered somewhere. The Vancouver Whitecaps are trying to build a downtown stadium on Burrard Inlet. With their own money. Be vigilant. Be wary. Be angry. This is completely unacceptable. Privately financed? It's an outrage. What are taxpayers to think? What sort of precedent does this set next time someone wants to build a transit line/convention centre/Olympic venue/stadium/hotdog stand in this town? We'll be a laughingstock, mocked everywhere by billionaire owners of sports franchises accustomed to extorting stadia from taxpayers. This is no way for an advanced civilization to behave. Arthur Griffiths tried this more than a decade ago with General Motors Place and swore he'd never do it again. Eventually, Griffiths will be stuffed and displayed behind glass at the Harvard School of Business and future tycoons will point and say in hushed tones: 'So that's the one. He's the guy who built a stadium without tax money. Poor fool." Now there's another Vancouver guy. Greg Kerfoot is the dot.com zillionaire who's been photographed as often as a spotted owl -- perched on Sasquatch's head -- but is afflicted with a very public addiction to soccer. He saved the Whitecaps. Now he wants to build a stadium for them above the CPR tracks north of Water Street. He has spent $20 million on land and the 15,000-seat stadium could cost another $60 million. It's not like he's going to refuse government money, but so far he hasn't really demanded any. In fact, it seems Kerfoot and the Whitecaps have asked for remarkably little. The city is doing all the asking and telling. Three years ago, the city asked him to consider building a stadium on the False Creek flats, then refused a year later to sell him land for it. Kerfoot found a better site and bought land last summer. In October, Whitecaps' president John Rocha and general manager Bob Lenarduzzi announced their vision for the site. City council immediately imposed an extraordinary six-month review process on their plans. This review includes four public consultations this week. These began Monday at the Woodwards Building, and continues 3-8 p.m. tonight at the Storyeum lobby on Water Street, Wednesday (2-8 p.m.) at the Harbour Centre lobby on West Hastings, and Saturday (10-4 p.m.) at the Vancouver Public Library's central branch promenade on West Georgia. An independent consultant retained by the city at the Whitecaps' expense makes his report to council in May and, if favourable, Kerfoot and the Whitecaps can look forward to a 12-18 month process for zoning and issuing development permits. By contrast, planning and funding for a 20,000-seat stadium in Toronto came together in a month last fall and work is underway for that venue to be ready for soccer's 2007 youth World Cup. And, by the way, that stadium's $72.8-million cost is being subsidized by the City of Toronto ($19.8 million), Ontario government ($8 million) and Ottawa ($27 million). Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which gets a new stadium for their expansion Major League Soccer franchise, is contributing only $8 million. Shame on Kerfoot for keeping his hands in his own pockets. His reward? If all goes well, he'll have a stadium sometime in 2009, built in roughly the same time frame as the $2-billion RAV transit line, and about two years too late for the junior World Cup. "It's fair to say that by the city initiating discussions with our owner in 2003, we had hoped to be much further ahead than we are," Lenarduzzi said. "But we respect the process. It is a big week for us because at the end of it, it should provide clarity to what the actual concerns are. Most people you talk to feel like, 'What's the problem?' So it's important for supporters to make their support known." Because, god knows, the activist groups opposed will make their feelings known. Politicians may brag about Vancouver being world-class, but we are nothing if not provincial. And for good reason. Designed to be the most transit-friendly stadium in North America, soccer fans will create enormous foot traffic around Waterfront Station. And Kerfoot's plans to build a stadium with "green" technology and British Columbia products will drive up the cost of lumber and deprive someone in Whistler of a beam for their great room. And the panhandlers in Gastown will be forced to grow their businesses and trade their paper coffee cups for bigger coin receptacles, such as Humvees. Actual issues include post-game crowd noise, parking and Kerfoot's long-term plans for other parcels of the trainyard. But no building on Water Street will be knocked down. Even the trains will be unaffected -- running in tunnels beneath the project. "I'll meet any group that has questions," Rocha said. "We've already been contacted by some groups and so far [the meetings] have gone really well. Traffic, we can address [and] the impact on the neighbourhood. We feel there are no significant issues we can't overcome." Except the lack of public financing so far. It's a blight on us all. firstname.lastname@example.org Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.