Markham councilors set to vote on funding for arena Staff

1/29/2013 11:39:42 AM

Councilors for the city of Markham are set to vote on financing for an NHL-sized arena on Tuesday night.

The 20,000-seat arena complex is expected to cost $325 million, all of which would be borrowed by the city under the current plan with GTA Sports and Entertainment, the private partners behind the project, paying back half that amount. The city plans to pay back the rest of the loan through levies on developers and surcharges on parking and event tickets, resulting in no increase in taxes on residents.

The councilors are expected to decide whether to go ahead with the current plan or provide no public funding for the arena. Council originally supported the concept of funding the project but public support has waned with the fear of losses if there is no NHL team is a tenant.

Former Montreal Canadiens owner George Gillett met with some city councilors this week, leading to speculation that he might want to invest in the project. However, Gillett said he is not interested in the current plan.

"At a later date as time goes by and they decide to approach it a different way or a broader-based way, and they wanted me to come back, I would certainly come back," Gillett told The Toronto Star. "Right now, I'm not here under any circumstances. I'm not here on an agenda."

If the plan is rejected, the GTA Sports and Entertainment could still build the arena but would assume all costs.

GTA Sports and Entertainment chairman and CEO Graeme Roustan submitted his site plan to the city in August and was hoping to break ground before the end of last year.