Here are a couple of stories about NHL teams fighting with city/regional governments for money related to their new or previous arena deals.
- First, news that’s good for an NHL team: the Montreal Canadiens won a tax-related battle with the city of Montreal regarding the Bell Centre. The Habs will receive a $5.8 million rebate after this legal victory. The Canadiens’ annual tax bill will also drop from $10 million to $8.5 million. The combined rebate and first year of savings (about $7.3 million) would almost cover Scott Gomez’s $7.5 million salary in 2011-12. No word regarding whether or not the Canadiens’ brass began an “Ole” chant after hearing the good news.
- The Edmonton Oilers are desperate to leave the 37-year-old Rexall Place once their lease expires in 2014. To do so, the Oilers reportedly need a big boost from either Alberta or the federal government.
Unfortunately for the Oilers, both sides seem reluctant (at best) to give them a $100-$125 million boost to build a $425 million arena project.
“There won’t be any direct dollars flowing to the arena. It’s a private sector business,” said Premier Ed Stelmach at an event in Calgary Wednesday.
“We’ve always said if they are improvements that can be made to the infrastructure around the proposed arena — LRT, water, sewer all of those that are joint responsibility of the city and the province. But we are continuing to meet.”
The federal government has been equally reluctant.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper made it clear earlier this year that his government is not in the pro-hockey business and will not spend taxpayers’ money on a professional sports arena or stadium.
This Oilers arena issue has been brewing for a few years now, but still seems like an under the radar problem. We’ll keep an eye on it as it develops, though, because it could get quite a bit thornier if the word “relocation” is thrown around even more than it already has been.