Arena Mess in Kingston

Kingston City Council is set to vote on canceling the downtown arena deal, which is facing cost overruns. The Frontenacs say they’re moving ASAP if the construction is stopped.

The downtown arena issue was just starting to percolate when I left Kingston, so I can’t say I have well-researched or well-thought out opinions on it. Being from Cincinnati, I’m certainly sympathetic to muncipalities being held over a barrel by sports franchises for new facilities. And there’s a fair amount of research out there that says investing public funds in sports facilities is an economic loser. On the other hand, having both played and been a spectator at the Memorial Centre (Ha, just noted that the OHL Arena Guide refers to it being in a “run down section of Kingston.” I lived two blocks from it for five years and, uh, I can’t argue with that.), that’s a building that is old, small, and in not great shape. And as Kingston is the birthplace of hockey (eat my shorts, Montreal and Windsor, NS! 😉 ), it would be a shame to see them lose the Fronts.

The group that opposes the arena has a pretty detailed website, if you’re interested in more info.

Dunno if I still have any of my loyal Kingston readers after the long hiatus from blogging…Kris, you have a take on this?

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2 responses to “Arena Mess in Kingston

  1. Well I can’t say I have fond memories of the Memorial Centre, except the time your host (Sarah) and and bunch of us actually rented the ice for our PoliSci team and played a game there. And given the size of Kingston…everything is downtown. Cold Vulcan logic would say it’s a crap arena in a crap part of town.

    London is the comparator, and money invested in the downtown London arena seems to have payed off and spearheaded a major rejuvenation downtown; but London’s demographics are much different from Kingston’s (London is waaaay bigger, waaaaay richer and had a downtown ghost town – Kingston’s ‘downtown’ is fairly vibrant because of the university and tourists and despite the best efforts of developers and council to kill it.)

    As usual there seems to be a lot of contention about the motives of the group seeking the money and how the deal was cut – welcome to municipal politics. But I think the real issue is K-town’s development history,in particular the waterfront developments leading to the Block D fiasco, followed by suburban flight and loss of a tax-base, redressed by a hostile and messy re-marriage of city and township under Harris, which has let a bitter legacy for all development issues.

    Kingston is the birthplace of hockey, but hockey and the people (fans and owners) long ago sold off hockey’s roots to travelling medicine salesmen. Let the medicine salesmen stump up their own money.

    Manchester and Birmingham and Detroit were respective birthplaces of the modern era which spawned the working leisure class and mass-marketed professional sports, and just like these cities, the old model of community-based hockey is dead on the vine. It does a lot of hurt and it makes me angry, but supporting the cuckoos nest of professional hockey so it can insult us with our own (i.e.taxpayers’) money when it doesn’t make sense – see my brief point on demographics above – is crazy. Snake-oil salesman crazy.

    For a counterpoint, I found this local Kingston blogpost on the web:

    http://neatesager.blogspot.com/2007/02/kingstons-arena-debate-revisited.html

  2. Well, they debated late into the night, but never voted on it, so the saga continues.

    The Whig definitely seems to be on the side of the arena, so I think we need to cut through the spin a bit in reading their coverage. Sounds like the city was sold a pig in a poke, but now they face paying for it with all the overruns and overruns to come (shades of Paul Brown Stadium!), or stopping it now and paying out in a huge lawsuit and losing the hockey team on top of it. Seems like not a great choice either way, but since the bloody thing is already under construction, they might as well finish it and keep their hockey team.

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