Markham Arena Loses Support

A proposed arena in Markham, Ontario, that local officials backed earlier this year is losing support over funding concerns.

The proposal, which was submitted on behalf of a group called GTA Centre Limited Partnership, would include the development of a 20,000-seat arena capable of hosting concerts, sports and other events on a 6-acre parcel of city-owned land and 4,400 parking spots.

But it would also include a big bill – $325 million to be exact – and proposed the city cover half the debt load up front.
Deputy Mayor Jack Heath recently joined several other officials in calling for the cancellation of the plan.
“The proposed financial framework has become extremely controversial in our community,” Heath told the Toronto Star. “I believe that discussions on it should be discontinued.
“Many taxpayers are opposed to Markham being involved in any financial aspect of the Markham Sports, Entertainment and Cultural Centre. They see risk and question the need and benefit,” he said.
Some city councilors are calling for an investigation into the head of GTA Centre, Graeme Rouston, before the city makes such a huge deal.
“If we are spending $325 million, we have a responsibility to our residents to do a thorough background check of all our prospective partners,” Councilor Don Hamilton told the paper. “I’m requesting an investigation of our partners take place.”
A Texas civil court found Rouston guilty of statutory fraud in 2009 over an arena deal, according to the Star, and several former partners reportedly criticized his business practices in interviews with the paper.