Selling the Stadium? Can’t come soon enough.

Good on Adrian Dix for belling the cat that is BC Place as currently run by the BC Liberals.

BC Place is the end repository of hundreds of millions of tax dollars that provide little or no public benefit and it is time somebody asked the simple question: Why?

Why is the BC government running a stadium? The BC Liberal government is clearly doing a very bad job of it.  Overpromising; $365 million for a roof and not a dime of public money, and under-delivering; $514 million, big deficits and not a dime of private money.

And, for that matter, what about the Convention Centre? A 100% overrun to build it and no one will say how many empty days, except the deficit seems to keep growing.

It’s a damn good thing BC Place stadium and the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre will finally be forced to justify their existence as the final resting place for these large government subsidies – tens of millions yearly.

The truth of the matter is that there is probably little reason for the provincial government to be in the business of running Vancouver’s two biggest circuses.  The public benefits are highly debateable and there certainly are greater needs for the scarce public dollars that currently go to the subsidy.

Still, Christy Clark went out of her way to trash the idea the second it came out of Dix’s mouth.

“It’s not leadership and it’s not responsible to decide you’re going to pull numbers out of thin air and say that you want to privatize government assets that first of all, aren’t surplus and second for which you don’t even have a buyer,” Clark said, from a campaign stop in Sicamous.

But isn’t that exactly what Clark’s government did when it declared it was going to sell off an undisclosed list of public assets for the purpose of raising $800 million for it’s ‘not quite balanced’ budget.

One very real reason Clark’s against Dix’s idea is more likely the long list of dirty tricks BC Place is hiding in PavCo’s corporate books.

Another is the fact that Dix’s announcement is one that we’d expect from a party friendly to the private sector, a party that’s willing to get government out of businesses that it should not be running.  Dix is making the kind of arguments the BC Liberals are supposed to be making.

With this and Clark’s foolish response, Dix ends up looking like the guy who knows what the business of government is and isn’t.

Or in other words, Dix ends up looking like a Premier, Clark like the confused wannabe.


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15 Responses to Selling the Stadium? Can’t come soon enough.

  1. G. Barry Stewart says:

    Yeah: what Ian said, LOL!

    I must admit, I was shocked to hear this announcement today. It shows that there was a thoughtful planning process, hiding for the right moment to let it out.

    I was standing a few feet away from Adrian in Chilliwack when a local LCB worker tried to get a commitment on the LCB staying as-is.

    Paraphrasing, Dix said, “You guys won that fight already.”

    I didn’t hear a, “We will never consider that” — but it SOUNDED like the LCB will stay as-is.

  2. Arleigh Chase says:

    There was a report floating around Vancouver City Hall in the mid-90s about contingency planning for a possible mass exodus of dual Canadian-Hong Kong citizens to Vancouver in the event that the Hong Kong handover didn’t go peacefully. One of the things that I found most interesting in the report was the possible use of B.C. Place stadium as a gigantic holding pen in the event of mass civil unrest, a giant jail of sorts. That’s the only reason I can think of that the Province would have any interest in holding onto it, but it’s obviously a pretty bogus one. I really can’t think of any circumstance in which tens of thousands of Vancouverites would need to be detained.

    I think it’s a good idea to get rid of this white elephant.

  3. Crankypants says:

    When the costs of the renovations to BC Place Stadium were pegged at over $500 million I commented on a couple of blogs that this made no sense. Winnipeg was building a new football stadium for $200 million with a capacity of over 33,000 seats and expandable to about 50,000 seats for special occaisions.

    I don’t believe that a business case was ever made public. Could it be that all the Liberals required for justification of the project was the fact that both the BC Lions and Greg Kerfoot were regular donors to their warchest? Between 2005 and 2012 the Leos have kicked in $53,850.00 and Kerfoot $44,540.00.

    Other than the usual claptrap we will hear from Christy & Co. I suspect the next biggest whiners will be from the Downtown Business Association. I figure that their members are the largest beneficiaries of events held at both the stadium and the Convention Centre. Maybe they should be the ones to pool their resources and lease both fixtures from the provincial government at a rate that covers the costs of financing the $1.2 billion of debt Pavco currently carries. The lease for each facility would expire when their utile life is reached. The land would still be owned by the government and could then be sold or developed as the government of the day sees fit. At least the taxpayers would not be going further in the red.

    Mr. Gauthier, what say you?

  4. e.a.f. says:

    Why governments build stadiums for the benefit of businesses is still a question to be answered. The stadiums are for sports teams which are making a bundle to begin with. Most citizens can’t even afford to attend these events. B.C. Place has been a big waste of money from the get go. Sell it and be done with it. Its a money pit. Of course if it is sold you do have to wonder what will become of the land. Wouldn’t want to see a huge casino on the land either.

    There was a huge budget overrun on the roof and the Vancouver Convention centre but charities are still trying to raise funds for a new Children’s Hospital. Time for the lieberals to go. Their priorities are a little out of wack.

  5. Another superb piece, Ian.

    It’s good that Adrian is doing this. They should sell the stadium as soon as practical, as the losses are simply too great–and ongoing!

    How do the Chair of PAVCO Peter Fassbender and his fellow board stooge Suzanne Anton–both BC Liberal candidates–defend the secrecy and outrageous debt? They have a legal and fiduciary duty to explain.

  6. chuckstraight says:

    Excellent article sir. You tell it like it is.

  7. kootcoot says:

    It is indeed ironic for Christy and the corporate party to be criticizing the NDP for threatening to “privatize” something. Of course the LIEberals would never sell such money losing white elephants to their friends, only things that are profitable are good enough for Gordo and Christy’s friends and even those have to be portrayed as money losers so their friends can get a cheap price.

  8. RossK says:

    The business plan?

    The plan was to justify the need to recoup the massive cost with an even more massive Casino-Industrial-Complex.

    Ian knows the timeline of how things were hatched… And roof did NOT come first.


  9. Paul says:

    The PavCo board includes two B.C. Liberal candidates, including board chair Peter Fassbender and board member Suzanne Anton.

    Vancouver Sun Article!

    John Cummins: “There should be no need to have taxpayers prop up Pavco.

    It’s currently a dumping ground for Liberal insiders and cronies. They seem to have no desire to protect taxpayers’ dollars.

    Cummins pointed out that Pavco board member Suzanne Anton and board chairman Peter Fassbender are running on the Liberal slate.

    Dix says Pavco has accumulated $1.2-billion in debt and incurs operational losses of tens of millions of dollars a year.

    The Province Article!

  10. Mark says:

    Great article, Ian. In the unseemly haste to build this under-utilized roof, some apparent inefficiencies in construction have occurred, resulting in numerous civil actions among the various participants. My concern is, who would buy this edifice with all the pending expensive litigation still in place, setting aside the fact that this roof is stained and somewhat porous? Unless, of course, assurances were made that the civil suits would somehow be “absorbed” by the government, i.e., you and me. This entire project stinks from the ground up.

  11. DenC says:

    I really loved the part where Christy criticized Dix of pulling numbers out of the air. So far the campaign has been pretty humorous with the NDP coming up with a decent plan and the Liberals rebutting with the NDP are evil.

  12. mazooki says:

    So, why would you want to talk about selling BC Place when there is no buyer? So, Christy Clark suggests.

    Like the Liquor Distribution Branch that didn’t have a buyer? Do we beieve that? A buyer was already lined up before the RFP went out. The RFP was issued to make it look that the sale was above board.

    And, the Fast Ferries for which there were no buyers? It’s amazing what a government is able to umload if it puts its mind to it.

    And the surplus assets. How do esw government know that those assets can be sold?. Because, they’ve already held discussions with propective buyers.

  13. None of the Above says:

    As I recall, just before BC Place opened, it was put under the assets of the British Columbia Building Corporation as the facility was otherwise bankrupt and had no way of opening and operating otherwise.

    It was foreshadowing of things to come…but I don’t think the most astute person could have predicted the insanity of Gordon Campbell (with urging from party donors) of this ridiculous 563 million dollar roof that will have it’s debt on the books until 2049!

    I fully support Mr Dix’s proposal…but I don’t think any investor with some business savvy is going to give close to the 500 million to clear the debt off the books.

  14. As a left-leaning libertarian, I am not averse to privatization, as long as we’re not getting into corporatism. However, I was against the privatization of liquor stores simply because it generated revenue. I am not up on such matters related to BC Place and if it indeed generates revenue for the province that pays for public services, I would favour keeping it public. If it costs the province money that would be better spent fighting poverty or on health care, I say sell the damn thing.

    I don’t like government or corporate control of much of anything, but since we have essential services to pay for, if something generates revenue, it’s worthwhile to keep it – especially after we blew millions renovating the thing that we could have used on essential services.

    I am for privatization in any situation, so long as it makes sense financially. We need to focus on paying down the debt and providing essential services for people. That’s the priority, regardless of what the government ultimately decides; it should benefit all of us who pay taxes, not corporations. Corporations are not people. Great, now I sound like Ron Paul.

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