Senators: No tax break, no team in Ottawa

11 Comments

Ontario’s finance minister, Dwight Duncan, maintains the ability for businesses to write off tickets to pro sports costs the province — currently facing a $16-billion deficit — millions of dollars in lost revenue. As a result, he’s taking steps to remove the tax break.

Not surprisingly, that’s not sitting well with the Ottawa Senators.

“We need that to survive,” team president Cyril Leeder told Postmedia. “We cannot have another whack to our ability to operate here. You could take away incentives in bigger cities in sports and those teams would find a way to make it work, but the ones that are not in the major markets won’t survive.”

This should be an interesting battle for hearts and minds in Ontario.

Duncan is appealing to hockey fans this way:  “Hopefully, Leafs tickets will become affordable for families. I know when a mom and dad take their kids out to a Leafs game, they don’t get a tax break. So it’s about priorities.”

Leeder is appealing to hockey fans this way: “We pay a lot of taxes here in this province. A lot. And we’re happy to do that, but we just want to be treated fairly. And if we’re not, we can’t stay.”

The Sens have had financial issues in the past – they filed for bankruptcy during the 2002-03 season and there was talk they could move. If not for the dramatic rise of the Canadian dollar and also the salary cap, they could easily be gone now.