Our Comment of the Week comes from the DeceitinDrugs on the post George Peary’s Deal Holding Up Canucks’ Deal.
A Who’s Who Of The Abbotsford Power Structure
The “sticking point” is the fact that Ex-Mayor George Peary, ex-city manager,Frank Pizzuto and Economic Development Manager, Jay Teichrob along with Heat Owners, Lane Sweeting, Barry Marsden, Fred Strumpski and Ron McNeil are all no stranger to City Hall.Lane Sweeting, Barry Marsden served on various city committees with Mayor and Council for years, including Economic Development Commision, Abbotsford Airport Authority and/or Tourism Abbotsford, most notably with Councillor John Smith or Dave Loewen. Lane Sweeting served on Tourism Abbotsford Board of directors with Jay Teichrob and Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce. Sweeting was the Finance chair on the Tourism Board and resigned in 2009, just before Abbotsford heat began to play in Abbotsford. Sweeting, Heat owner, was the Finance chair of the Abbotsford Airport Authority until 2011, all the while his team was receiving a subsidy from the taxpayer. And, it was the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce, past presidents, Fionna Brett and Alvin Epp “vociferously supported” Plan A, a project brought forward by Economic Development Commission, Abbotsford Airport Authority and/or Tourism Abbotsford, who served as the City liason to the Chamber of Commerce, Executive, in 2006 and now is a director on the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce. One could say, birds of a feather … that is the City did not negotiate a hockey deal with an outside group of owners, but, people, who were very closely connected with members at City Hall. As the saying goes, one should NOT mix business with pleasure and the city decided to enter into a hockey business venture with a group of people, who were closely associated with them, via City Hall for years.
How did that happen. Well, it’s very simple, the City of Abbotsford did not have an anchor tenant, before opening the arena and to save face after touting the promises of profits, sought out the help of the Heat owners, who were willing to oblige.They came upon one big stumbling block – travel expenses – for the Abbotsford Heat and other teams in the AHL, since other teams would be required to travel to the western most city in the league.
As, Mayor Peary stated, in 2009, “That is what we had to do to get hockey in Abbotsford.”
Yes, the Calgary Flames conditions were that the expenses for the team, travel expenses, would be picked up by the City of Abbotsford and the City Council sense of obligation to the owners for their part in investing and thus, bringing a hockey anchor tenant to the arena led to a deal being inked guaranteeing $5.7 million in annual expenses, being paid by the city for the duration of a ten-year contract.All was looking favourable, except, one problem! The City of Abbotsford did not realize the profits, which they were counting on, due to an inflated and irresponsible business plan and the hockey arena has required a taxpayer funded subsidy ever since, despite the repeated promises of profits.
This is the real sticking point … a council, which did not have the expertise to negotiate such a complex contract on behalf of the taxpayer and relied on city staff and select members/ex-members of the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce to make the decisions, which may very well come back to haunt them!Having said that, however, the Calgary Flames have nothing to loose: their farm team’s expenses including travel costs are being covered by, the Abbotsford taxpayer.
If the Flames move the Abbotsford Heat will have minimal travel expenses and thus, either way the Flames will come out on top with no extra expenses, whether they are in Abbotsford or Utica.
This Mayor and Council can try to right the mistakes of the past, by, releasing the Flames and the Abbotsford Heat from this contract and even if, there is a cost attached, because once again, the taxpayer will be paying and perhaps, it is best to just cut our loses, instead of dragging this city further into debt, which will happen if ticket sales do not improve, thus, leaving the city without the funds to put into future maintenance and upgrades at the arena and continued hockey subsidies being paid out of city reserves.