Todd Colin Vaughan/Lacombe Express Editor

VAUGHAN: Calgary arena deal not beneficial to low-income fans

Economic benefits of new arena unlikely to trickle down to fans unable to afford tickets

It’s so wonderful that the City of Calgary took notice of the truly needy in our society — billionaire sports franchise owners.

The city is currently in the midst of approving the construction of a $550-million facility for the Calgary Flames that will replace the aging Saddledome. The Saddledome is, truthfully, not able to accommodate the needs of a modern NHL franchise and needs to replaced — but the timing and specifics of this situation could not be worse.

The City has agreed to cover half of the cost of the facility, $275-million, at the same time as approving $60-million in cuts to Calgary Transit, City staff and services, including the elimination of an estimated 233 positions, 115 of which are currently employed.

A decision is also being made on whether to put Calgary’s proposed LRT Green Line on pause.

These cuts make a corporate welfare donation to billionaires really hard to swallow for even the most ardent Flames fan.

The wealthy inheritors of taxpayer dollars will argue that there is a net economic benefit for taxpayers due to the future development around a new arena, but evidence for this is somewhat subjective and inconclusive.

What is less inconclusive is the benefit, or lack thereof, a new arena has to a lower to mid income hockey fans who will rarely —if ever — be able to enjoy Calgary’s future hockey Mecca.

Currently, a quick ticket search online shows that tickets to a Calgary Flames game is $51 in the press level. For a family of four, this means the cost of an attending a single game costs at least $200 to sit in the worst seats in the house — not including food, drinks, transit and other costs associated with leaving the house.

For many fans, this simply not a justifiable cost more than once per year — if at all.

A new arena deal will undoubtedly herald increased ticket costs, making fandom even more inaccessible to taxpayers with not enough zeros in their salary.

Simply put, sports owners in Calgary and all over North America are not catering to low-income fans and this alone should make any elected government official pause before signing off on a deal.

But, sports owners in the NHL, NBA, MLB and the NFL have taxpayers and particularly fans over the barrel. They know their teams are beloved by their fans and they know losing a team is a heartbreaking experience for city.

If the city doesn’t build their playground, they will simply flirt with other cities looking to lure professional sports franchises.

It’s a boondoggle with no winners other than the billionaire recipients of taxpayer funds.

But, Calgary will get their arena and, truthfully, fans and the city deserve to have a premier facility for the team they love.

What they don’t deserve is an arena that comes at the cost of vital infrastructure, jobs and services while simultaneously being told it’s a good deal.

Just Posted

Central Alberta Buccaneers punch ticket to AFL Final

28-20 win over Fort Mac sets up likely date against Calgary Wolf Pack

Lacombe Chamber annual Scholarship winners unveiled

Successful applicants for 2019 are Bryna Figursky and Aden Grose

Lacombe’s Morrison House Cafe to close Aug. 30

Morrison House recently celebrated 100 years in Lacombe

WATCH: Lacombe Days parade rolls through city

Hundreds turn out for annual tradition

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

Discussion on grief and loss between Stephen Colbert, Anderson Cooper goes viral

The exchange includes emotional question from Cooper, and outlook on grief as a child

Toronto activist calling on federal parties to nominate more black candidates

Fewer than 20 black Canadians have been nominated so far, including some Liberal MPs seeking re-election

First Nations women finally to be treated equally under Indian Act: Bennett

Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action thanked the feds

‘Easy Rider’ star Peter Fonda dies at 79

Actor and writer was nominated for an Oscar for co-writing the 1969 psychedelic road trip movie

What could be next? Five questions in the SNC-Lavalin saga

Will police lay charges? Will report resonate with voters? Will Jody Wilson-Raybould get re-elected?

Alberta government strikes panel to advise on wage cut for alcohol servers

Panel is tasked with consolidating existing studies on the effects of a minimum-wage increase

‘Tips on steroids:’ Social media both a help, hurdle for Canadian police investigations

More than 1,000 tips were received by police in the hunt for fugitives Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky

Most Read