Silver Nuggets: Taxpayer backlash in Ottawa and Glendale

People around these parts don't often talk about the Phoenix Coyotes and the continuing saga over their existence in Arizona, and I'm pretty happy about that; the ongoing drama is worse than tiring (I don't even want to imagine what it's like to be a Coyotes fan right now), and it seems that a lot of Canadians discussing the issues resort to tired and irrelevant arguments about 'deserving' an NHL team. It's frustrating.

But reading an article on Five for Howling this morning about the anti-Coyotes group led by Ken Jones and Joe Cobb, who oppose the new ownership deal and connected municipal support of Greg Jamison's bid to buy the 'Yotes and keep them in Glendale, reminded me of something most in Ottawa are probably sick of hearing about: The Friends of Lansdowne Park group's campaign against the redevelopment of Lansdowne Park.

Of course, we're talking about very different financial scales here: Ottawa is paying about $130M for the redevelopment of Lansdowne Park (that doesn't factor in foregone revenue from land given to the developer nor does it account for management fees that will be paid to Ottawa Sports Entertainment Group), while Glendale's 20-year lease agreement with Jamison carries a $325M price tag (which doesn't include anything about the initial costs of the stadium).

But there are a lot of similarities. Both deals surround a major professional sports team as the chief tenant; an NHL team in Glendale and a CFL team in Ottawa. Both deals position the stadium as a major component in an area's economic development. And both deals are highly contentious among taxpayers.

More after the jump...
I think there's more nuance to the Ottawa opposition than that in Glendale, though; the latter seems to be mostly about dollars and cents. The municipality of Glendale has spent hundreds of millions of dollars building the stadium, acquiring the Coyotes, and finding ways to keep the hockey Arena's only tenant--in town. It seems that the main issue of contention, therefore, is the money involved in the impending ownership deal; my understanding is that the group led by Ken Jones and Joe Cobb and others opposing the deal see it as good money thrown after bad.

Here in Ottawa, it sure seems like the financial argument is an attempt to get all of the city's taxpayers on board with what has been mostly regional backlash against the redevelopment. Other issues, all significant, include traffic management around the stadium, concerns about preserving environmental and historical aspects to the park, and the privatisation (via retail and residential development) of what was public lands.

But the resistance seems very similar. Tactically, each organization is exhausting every single legal and political option at their disposal to end the development, or--at the very least--delay it long enough to cause problems in the process. And, for now at least, both resistance organizations seem to be failing.

In Ottawa, the redevelopment of Lansdowne Park hasn't started yet, but it's pretty well on track; Friends of Lansdowne Park won't stop their fight, but things look pretty well done. In Glendale, the anti-Coyotes petition of Ken Jones and Joe Cobb's group was not turned in to Glendale council, at least not yet--the group will continue seeking signatures, but the petition seems likely to fail in an attempt at getting a referendum even if they find enough signatures in the near future; that means the Coyotes are likely to stay in Glendale for the next 20 years (and that they'll apparently be changing their name to the Arizona Coyotes at some point).

Now, onto the headlines...

Senators headlines:

  • Nick Foligno is looking forward to a "bigger role" in Columbus next season. (Sudbury Star)
  • Scott Cullen gives a good rundown of the Sens' FA Day acquisitions. (TSN)
  • Remember Trevor van Riemsdyk, the unsigned free agent who was at the Sens' development camp? He's also at the Flyer's development camp. That's some sweet free conditioning advice, if you ask me. (Broad Street Hockey)
  • Ottawa's got one of the most expensive blue lines in the league. (Puck Daddy)

Hockey headlines:

  • Reports of a three-year $30M offer from the KHL's CSKA to Alex Semin are apparently false. He's not sure where he'll play next year, though. (Puck Daddy)
  • Zach Parise and Ryan Suter are both assistant captains in Minnesota. (Puck Daddy)

Other headlines:

Completely different direction and not even hockey-related, but this is some amazing writing about a huge tragedy: "Elliot Lake: The first rescuers inside the mall share their harrowing account" [Macleans]

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