When it became known that the newest, revised, Blue Bomber stadium deal would plunge the Blue and Gold $85 million in debt, the obvious question was: how is a team that lost money four of the last five years* going to pay off $85 million??
The answer: playing well. Well, okay, that's just my solution. The official answer:
1. Facility fee of $6 a ticket.
2. Entertainment tax of 10 per cent on each ticket sold.
3. Increased ticket sales, corporate suites and parking revenue.
4. Naming rights.
Would I pay $6 more for a ticket? Ya, probably. Just having enough leg room is worth $6 to me. What's that? Oh right .. the entertainment tax ... Jeeze .. This is starting to feel like buying an airline ticket. Facility fee, entertainment tax, and whatever fees Ticketmaster screws you with when you buy through them. How much is a ticket? $40. Okay I'll take two. Kay, $120 please.
Alright: so new tax and new fee ..would I pay $10 more per ticket? Probably. I have good job and only go to a couple games a year anyhow. Would a single income family of 4 pay $10 more per ticket? That I can't answer. It might be a tough call.
I don't doubt that the first couple of years will see a boost in ticket sales, but after the novelty of the new stadium wears off the decision to buy tickets will once again come down to dollars and cents. The more dollars, the fewer tickets will be sold.
Which is why item #3: increased ticket sales, is a problem. You know how you increase ticket sales? Decrease the price. Selling more tickets while increasing the price is a dubious business plan. It might work out if this were a three year proposition, but this is a 44 year commitment here. There are going to be stretches in those 44 years when the Bombers fail to make the playoffs and struggle to get asses in the seats, and during those years the Bombers will get crushed under the weight of the $4.5 million annual mortgage payments. And what happens in that case? The province will have to bail them out. Or they go bankrupt, in which case the Bank of You and Me ends up holding the bag anyhow.
Not to mention that 44 years from now, if not earlier, this ball park won't be so "world class" anymore and will have increasing maintenance and repair costs. We may even be replacing this sucker before it's paid off.
So ultimately this isn't Bomber debt -- it's provincial debt. It is community debt. It is taxpayer debt. All of this stuff about paying off the stadium though increased revenues and TIFs and whatever is all just slight of hand. There is no private money going into this project because the powers that be committed to a specific partner with a specific project that turned out to be a dud, so however you slice it, this is a publicly-funded project.
And whatever .. so be it. I do think we need a new stadium: The seats in the current one make me feel like Andre the Giant, and investing more money into that dump would be a travesty. It's not unreasonable for a government to fund an entertainment facility like this every so often. (what is unreasonable is for a government to back a failing team to the tune of $200m over 6 years, but that's another story..) It would be nice if they were honest about it, though. (I know ... dreamland ... right ...)
Just out of curiosity ... point number 4: Naming rights. How is this new revenue? Is Canad Inns not paying for the naming rights to the current stadium? Or are they also selling naming rights for the goal posts, mascots and the touchdown canon? Oh look! Half Pints Buzz is driving the CentrePort airplane around the WRHA canon!
Anyhow... Go Bombers!
*For reference: Bomber revenues: