During the mostly humdrum question and answers tonight at the UFV Mayoral Candidate’s Debate, a startling revelation was made by Mayor Henry Braun. The candidates were asked a question about what they would do to minimize the financial losses of the Abbotsford Centre while maximizing its usage. Discussion turned toward the possibility of a new hockey team, such as the Canuck’s Farm Team.
When it was Braun’s turn to answer, he flatly said that the Canucks came to Abbotsford and proposed locating the team in the Abbotsford Centre.
Braun went on to say that the Canucks organization wanted a guarantee of $7.7 million in annual revenue. This compares to the Abbotsford Heat’s guarantee of $5.7 million. Braun found that offer completely unacceptable and stated that he wouldn’t agree to a deal that made taxpayers liable for that amount of money.
However, he then went on to say that his counter-offer was $0 as a guarantee. He would not make taxpayers liable for any amount of guarantee.
But isn’t this the team we always wanted?
Surely Mayor Braun could run some numbers and determine that the Canucks Farm Team would fulfill the promise to Abbotsford citizens that the Abbotsford Centre would get a hockey team that gave us a chance to both enjoy the entertainment, and realize a return on the investment. A high profile team like the Canucks Farm Team would draw fans from neighboring communities, and would generate sell-outs.
Could the Mayor not negotiate up from zero to a counter-offer that made sense for the City of Abbotsford financially but also kept discussion open with the Canucks? Better yet…could the Mayor have put the investment to the people of Abbotsford for their feedback?
In other professional sports markets, local governments have run pre-commitment season ticket sales to determine the level of support for a professional team. Yes, that’s right. They have sold season tickets for a professional sports team that they had not yet signed an agreement with.
But the Mayor said his response to the Canucks’ offer was that no deal that involved a guarantee would be entertained. Was that the end of our opportunity to have the Canucks Farm Team here in Abbotsford?
It leaves one to wonder about the negotiating skills of those involved on the City’s behalf.