Leafs practice rink gets bailout
TORONTO - The city of Toronto is poised to take over the debt-laden Lakeshore Lions Arena.
Councillors on the city's executive committee agreed Monday to a bailout for the four-pad facility, dubbed the Mastercard Centre for Hockey Excellence -- the Toronto Maple Leafs practice rink.
The bailout came after councillors grilled city staff about the project and why they were now being asked to relieve the Lakeshore Lions club from their obligation to manage the arena.
Mayor Rob Ford and his executive committee members voted in favour of creating a new arms-length city corporation to oversee the arena, taking over the entire project debt of $43.4 million, providing $1 million line of credit at 3% interest to tide the arena over through the summer and locking in the city's $18.8 million in loans that were taken out at a variable rate to finance the construction.
Councillor David Shiner successfully urged his colleagues to strip the Lakeshore Lions name and logo from the arena.
"There has to be a price for making a mistake," Shiner argued.
Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti said he wanted the city to put out a request for expressions of interest for companies willing to take over management of the arena.
Mammoliti also blasted the original arena deal.
"This particular venture was a disaster right from the beginning," he said.
Before they dug into the bailout debate, councillors heard a deputation from Canlan Ice Sport. The arena management company told councillors the Mastercard Centre could benefit from a professional management company.
Ken Male, a vice-president from Canlan, said the four-pad arena suffered from a lack of an experienced management team.
City council will have the final say on the bailout at its July meeting.