Volume 92, Issue 81

Wednesday, March 3, 1999


Modern form of discrimination

Country living

Costly mistakes can be made by everybody

Never asked for varsity

Millennium bugs

White male generalization

Cleaning up campus vandalism

The not so Canadian game

The not so Canadian game

Here's a little question regarding Canada – what is more Canadian, The Tragically Hip or the Toronto Maple Leafs?

According to the Ontario government, professional hockey doesn't even register as Canadian and that is why the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs must pay a 12.5 per cent entertainment tax on all ticket sales, while The Tragically Hip can go into the same venues and escape the additional financial burden.

This is just one example of the unnecessary strain the three levels of government place on professional sport franchises in our nation.

In the past week, Rod Bryden, owner of the Senators, has been in the spotlight because he can no longer afford to cover the team's financial losses and feels he has to sell the club to American interests. However, this strain is not caused by playing in a small market, but rather by a weakening Canadian dollar and over taxation.

Granted, professional sports, whether it be hockey or baseball, should not be given any special privileges just because of idiotic policies in the United States, but at the same time, these franchises should not be gouged at every corner.

Case in point, the tax assessment for the new Air Canada Centre is $14 million, as opposed to the $1 million the Leafs were paying in the Gardens. The Senators' assessment this year is $7 million, up $5 million from when the arena initially opened four years ago.

Another example is the fact the Senators were forced to pay for a new highway off-ramp which was built to accommodate the traffic that the new venue would create. Highway infrastructure is a provincial expense which no private citizen or corporation should have to incur. Although the province did finance the deal, the team was forced to pick up the $38 million tab which they are now paying back in $2 million annual payments.

There may not be any evidence of positive economic effects for a community to hold on to a professional sport team, but there still are positive effects to be found. The teams give the community something to rally around, while at the same time contributing to the identity of the town. The people of Quebec and Winnipeg can attest to this.

Surely there is room for tax relief for our beloved teams. Relief can be found without putting the teams on a special pedestal – in fact, all they are asking for is to be treated the same way other corporations are. A solution can be found in repaying teams for the infrastructure bills they have paid and, more importantly, by designating the Leafs and the Sens as legitimate Canadian entertainment.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999