City to spend up to $200,000 on pro basketball equipment

Dave Stewart
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Council also approves $50,000 in 2014, 2015 and 2016 for Civic Centre which facility will use to market itself

Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee checks his notes as Roy Main, CAO for the City of Charlottetown, reads a motion to be voted on during the regular meeting of council Monday.

The City of Charlottetown is going to spend up to $200,000 to purchase equipment it will need to serve as the home of a pro basketball franchise.

The city is also allocating an additional $50,000 per year in 2014, 2015 and 2016 to the Charlottetown Civic Centre for the purpose of marketing the facility.

City council passed the resolution 8-2 at Monday night’s regular monthly public meeting. Couns. Danny Redmond and Jason Coady did not support the move.

The city is spending the $200,000 after it was officially announced on Sunday that the Summerside Storm of the National Basketball League of Canada is moving to the Civic Centre for the 2013-14 season. Duncan Shaw, the team’s co-owner, said it was purely a business decision to ensure the future of the franchise.

The $200,000 will be used to purchase a basketball court surface and things like backboards, clocks and timers.

Mayor Clifford Lee said the city did not go after the Storm; it was the Storm that approached the city.

“This is not something the City of Charlottetown went after. We didn’t go to the Storm and take them from any other community in the province,’’ Lee said following council’s meeting.

The mayor said he was asked to attend a meeting four months ago with the owners of the Storm, Shaw and Darren MacKay, and John Abbott, chair of the Civic Centre in which the owners wanted to discuss a possible move. Then the drama unfolded with the Quebec league team (Charlottetown Islanders) and the Summerside Western Capitals and talks were put off. Talks began again about 10 days ago.

These are exciting times for the Civic Centre. The Guardian has also learned that the arena board is in talks with a major corporation for naming rights, meaning the complex might be getting a brand new name soon.

Lee said council decided it was worth the expenditure, even though it wasn’t budgeted for.

“We didn’t anticipate this opportunity would present itself in 2013. The money is not in the budget (but) it was too good an opportunity to pass up.’’

Lee said occasionally there are expenses that come up that weren’t expected and you deal with them.

“Quite frankly, we wouldn’t be doing our job if we had walked away from this and said ‘no, we don’t want to talk about a new business opportunity’.’’

Redmond said he’s been getting calls from residents in his ward since The Guardian first reported the move was coming last week. He said it’s hard to explain to residents why they didn’t get the sidewalks and curbs they asked for yet see the city spend money on a sports team.

For the record, public works informed Redmond he would get his sidewalks, just not right away.

Lee also stressed that the Storm has not asked for, nor will the city give it, an operating subsidy.

Lee said the $50,000 marketing agreement isn’t about the Storm.

“(Their) mandate is to go out and sell that building, market that building, get the building used as much as they can. Then you look to their budget and how much money do they have to market the building? They don’t have anything. This money, beginning next year, allows the Civic Centre staff to go out and attract events, attract opportunities for the building.’’

Lee said the Storm and Islanders major junior hockey team are already talking about working together to promote each other.

Wayne Long, events development officer with the city, says having the Storm allows the Civic Centre to be even more of a vibrant venue and makes it easier to market the city when it comes to event attraction.

Organizations: Charlottetown Civic Centre, Islanders, National Basketball League of Canada Summerside Western Capitals The Guardian

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Quebec

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Recent comments

  • otto
    July 10, 2013 - 18:17

    I don't pretend to be able to read peoples' mind from what they write here, but I would think that 'the rich' referred to here are those you have great ideas and start up or buy teams of various kinds, but then come panting and begging for the taxpayers to put up hundreds of thousands of dollar to make THEIR dream come through, - and the taxpayers do not have a choice because elected officials have to power to do what they like, - as mentioned, that is democracy, - and that is why people should give serious thoughts to who they elect to look after our affairs, - right now we are poorly helped at all levels of government.

    • therich
      July 11, 2013 - 15:50

      In my view, part of governments' role is to support those who have great ideas by creating an environment which helps enable those ideas to succeed. Its the people, not government, that creates a society; but its government's job to "grease the wheels" IF (and I emphasize "if") its reasonable to conclude that society will be better off if the idea succeeds. For that reason, I don't necessarily disapprove of government money to support things like pro basketball (or QMJHL hockey or whatever). Oh for some its all too easy; simply speak of health care, education, or cops in schools and it seems that money to facilitate a basketball team coming to Charlottetown doesn't make sense. But that's too simplistic. It takes many things to make a community work. I don't believe that Shaw and co. came "panting and begging". Yes, they are looking out for their own interests and are in pro basketball to make money. And I don't advocate that the City invest simply to help two guys profit. But what if their idea helps the city too? Now this is something I expect our elected representatives to listen to. The Civic Centre (a money losing entity) now has another major tenant. The questions to be asked are: Does the investment improve the community by having a pro basketball team around and, does it help make the Civic Centre more viable? These are the questions you must ask if you are to accept Council's decision to buy 200K worth of equipment. Taxpayers DO have a choice. You elected these people to make decisions like this. Tell them "yay" or "nay" both now and when they are looking for re-election.

  • reality check
    July 10, 2013 - 11:19

    Part of the blame for this drunken spending problem in Charlottetown lies with City Council & the Mayor. But another part of the problem lies with City Staff and the CAO. There is a cultural problem within the public sector in Charlottetown and PEI as a whole. There is a perception that the budget that these public servants administer, and thus their political leadership, is not ''REAL'' money and therefore it is not their money. There is no culture of frugality when it comes to these very extremely questionable economic development requests. Yet they nickel and dime critical infrastructure spending by going with under qualified PEI companies (gotta keep it local) or the lowest bid (but also the lowest quality). The way Charlottetown is operated is so incredibly frustrating that I could scream. Yet city taxpayers CONTINUE to elect these hick yokels ---- the incumbency syndrome I guess. Either that or every elector has been zapped by aliens and can't think critically.

  • William White
    July 09, 2013 - 16:42

    Crime is a huge business, the Doctors over prescribe opiates which hook the stupid, the Government Supplies the liquor which generates huge on both the cause and cure sides and the Police and Lawyers who are naturally paid by the Government make a fat pay cheque from it. They all work for the Government and have no plan to stop any of it because it is just so lucrative. It's always the money and real Criminals wear suits.

  • To R
    July 09, 2013 - 11:56

    Perhaps you should spend a little more time reading things other than sports-related stories. There's been a lot of media attention given recently to the prescription drug epidemic on PEI. You are clearly missing the articles. If you were reading them, you would know that there are MANY factors that go into teenage drug use. In many cases, parenting is not one of the reasons.

  • don
    July 09, 2013 - 11:21


  • JBM
    July 09, 2013 - 10:28

    Here i thought Mr. Lee was a little smarter than Mr. stewart........... i was wrong.

  • nitpicker
    July 09, 2013 - 09:38

    There are more questions to be asked. The 200K seems to be an investment in the Civic Centre, to allow it to host professional basketball. In return, the facility gets a second major tenant for about 20 home dates a year. Will the storm pay rent? Who gets the concessions etc.? What's the team's commitment, is it a one year contract like it was with Summerside? If the city gets a return on the 200K investment, I have no problem with it.

  • Islander
    July 09, 2013 - 09:38

    Mayor Clifford Lee is ten times the Mayor than they have in Summerside. Be careful Clifford not to follow his path and do look at the Police Offers in the main schools. Not to long ago the City could not fund such a worthwhile program and now instantly over $200.000 is approved? You won't find Basuil and Bruce struttering around for awhile. Them two a a real piece of work constantly lieing to the people and spending taxpayers dollars on pipe dreams and lawyers to the tune of millions.

  • don
    July 09, 2013 - 08:03

    thats ok ch'town you will be used the same as s'side. i a short while they will walk away and you will have nothing same as they did to the people of s'side your big brain in the city halls fell for it let them pay for the flooring.but just think how 200,000 will work towards water treatment etc. but the mayor will do anything to take from any other place on PEI and he is now proving it.

  • bob from cardigan
    July 09, 2013 - 07:58

    Danny Redmond and Jason Coady are the real story here. Thanks for voting against government waste.

  • Yorkshire
    July 09, 2013 - 07:51

    The deals struck behind the scenes at taxpayers expense is getting out of hand, --- is there anybody representing `the people`, or are we just milking cows for the rich and powerful. Looks like it, Clifford ----- THIS of course means that the `peasants` will be powerless in the next City election too, - a certain class knows who they want on City Council, - and they have what it takes to make sure that happens. Democracy ---- in a poor province--

  • graig
    July 09, 2013 - 07:43

    I sympathize with the person who is trying to keep a roof over the head and paying property taxes, while trying to make ends meet. It is like all our politicians have totally lost touch with the struggles facing many people each day. The Prov. Gov. with the HST will waste more than ever. Apparently the City believes the taxpayers should buy every crazy idea presented, as long as it benefits the rich. That is not what City governance is all about, - but somehow that art is lost..

    • TheRich
      July 09, 2013 - 12:04

      Who exactly is "the rich"? Anyone with an idea to actually do something rather than complain about the status quo? Are those who may attend a basketball game "the rich"?

  • The Billy Cays
    July 09, 2013 - 07:42

    Can't wait to see what Bill Kays has to say about this...

  • Tax money well spent . . .
    July 09, 2013 - 07:37

    Tax money well spent, much better than subsidizing an officer in a high school to keep drugs away from our children, eh? Just to make it clear to a few Councillors, that last comment is facetious . . . better go one step closer, facetious is when one treats serious issues with deliberately inappropriate humor, it's like being flippant. Here's another facetious comment: Boy that Civic Center is a great place for fans to see basketball. Okay, one more for the road: Spending tax dollars on entertainment projects over spending on social programs is symbolic of mature governance.

  • Hmmmmm
    July 09, 2013 - 06:58

    Umm really? I am All for supporting well thought out projects BUT I want the City to lay out for us the benefit of these expenditures-we are losing our ground water sources for Pete's sake - this seems to be a hasty/poor decision. This is one move that will not sit well with voters.... Very disappointed to see the for/against count.

  • waste of money
    July 09, 2013 - 05:45

    I'm sorry,, where do all the kids spend their summers in Charlottetown?? at Victoria Park,, where nothing has been spent in a few years,,,Spring Park school has better equipment! sure sure it's part of the "big plan" but guess what they need upgrades now!!! When was it announced that "we" the taxpayer want to spent that kind of money on a basketball team??? seriously people basketball!!! they couldn't make a go in Summerside so lets spend more money and bring them here, brilliant!!!,,, I did I get a say??? no, but I bet you my taxes will go up to reflect the waste of money,,, the owners of the basketball team can shell out of their pockets not mine! Shaw and Mackay want to spend their money go right ahead,, and leave what I have no choice to pay to what it needs to go to! the needs of the people who live in the city,,, not on big homes and trips for shaw and mackay! seriously city council what were you thinking???

  • jennifer
    July 08, 2013 - 23:00

    Time to go Clifford Lee and all Council with the exception of Coady and Redmond. Was this deal even voted on properly?? PATHETIC!!!!!

  • charlottetown tax payer
    July 08, 2013 - 21:20

    I am utterly opposed to all of the non-essential spending that this city government has been doing. Infilling ditches, art festivals, watering flowers, buying basketball equipment, paying promo fees to a Q-league team, etc. etc. We have a WATER CRISIS in this city. We have a CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE DEFICIT in this city. We have a woefully 1970s-era FIRE & POLICE SERVICE in this city. Fix those first. Everything else comes second.

    • Stratford Tim
      July 09, 2013 - 08:49

      The city water crisis and critical infrastructure deficit will be paid for by other provincial tax payers through the "equalization" welfare payments flowing from the provinces through Ottawa to PEI. Posters and commentators should not get worked up over these costs as others will pay the bill as they have done in the past and continue to do. Charlottetown spends on entertainment and circus shows, gives the bill to the Ghiz government and the province gets the funding from their Ottawa ATM machine. Let's be entertained as other Canadians will be paying the final costs. Carry on....

    July 08, 2013 - 21:03

    Maybe they could get a good deal on the floors that Summerside bought for a basketball team. I think all of politicians in this province are totally out of touch, and they LOVE to spend money with no consequence for them.

  • wendell
    July 08, 2013 - 20:57

    Only two people saw fit to vote against this give away, ---- sickening--

  • ralph
    July 08, 2013 - 20:55

    Only two councillors voted against this give away. Who are the `pals`` on the Board of Directors for the Civic Centre----- It is amazing that the rest of them are such spendthrifts --- with my money, --- I know who is not getting my vote next time. This Council with the exception of 2-3 who have absolutely no concern for the people that has to keep coughing up these large amounts of money so some-body can play at their hobby and at the same time make money. Where has this notion come from that5 the taxpayers of Charlottetown is to support business and keep them in profit, --- it used to be that business supported the City, =- now it is the other way around, - and I am sick of it, - I think it is time to clean house at City Hall, - get reasonable, thinking people in, that has some respect for average working person.

  • Alfredd
    July 08, 2013 - 20:48

    I want to congratulate the two aldermen that voted against this expenditure. Clifford said if they had said not to this they would not be doing their job, --- unfortunately he does not understand what his job is, --- it is to provide services such as policing, decent roads, sewer, water, snow clearing, and reasonable recreation - used to be garbage too , but they got out of that. His Worship has too much money on his hands, and it has gone to his head. He now thinks his job is provide business people with a living and a profit, at the expense of the taxpayers. As for the rest of the Council, I am always surprised that so few has a mind of their own, and most don`t understand their role any more than Clifford. Not one of you know what it is like to pay taxes and then go and only have enough money to buy kraft dinner for your kids, even though you know they need some vegetables too------- I don`t think so, otherwise you would vote against this foolishness and try to reduce taxes. But you are all sitting there comfortably, - giving my money away

  • M
    July 08, 2013 - 20:39

    But yet can't keep a police officer in the school

    • I'm with you
      July 09, 2013 - 05:48

      My thoughts exactly!

    • R
      July 09, 2013 - 07:05

      Don't need a police officer in schools. I think alot of parents need parenting classes instead. Police officer isn't going to help if the parents can't teach their own children right from wrong first.