Bulls & Bears: Rogers Arena still dazzles after 20 years

 

Tom Mayenknecht hosts The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and TSN Radio, where he regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of sports business. He reviews the major winners and losers of the past week every Saturday

 
 
 
 
Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and the TSN Radio network, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.
 

Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and the TSN Radio network, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.

Photograph by: Vancouver Sun graphics, .

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Bulls of the Week

As a former Vice-President of Orca Bay Sports & Entertainment (now Canucks Sports & Entertainment), the old Vancouver Grizzlies (now in Memphis) and the old General Motors Place (now Rogers Arena), it’s only natural that I’d have some personal nostalgia around the official opening of the building 20 years ago on September 21st, 1995. To this day, one of my favourite memories of my life in the sports & entertainment business is being one of a couple of dozen people in the empty arena when Bryan Adams did his sound check rehearsal for the very first concert held in the building two days earlier. Yet that launch and its 20th anniversary stand on their own merit as our sport business Bulls-of-the-Week because of what Rogers Arena was at the time: The first fully privately financed arena or stadium in Canada since the opening of the old Maple Leaf Gardens in 1929. Even in 2015 dollars of $233 million, the original construction cost of $160 million is a bargain in today’s era of $500 million arenas and billion dollar stadiums. It’s true that Arthur Griffiths might have over-reached in his attempts to build the arena privately and then add the acquisition of the NBA expansion Grizzlies. It’s also true he ultimately relinquished control of the project six months before the opening of what is now Rogers Arena. Yet to this day, he had the right vision of a downtown arena cluster (with BC Place) on waterfront and close to public transit. Griffiths also had the right idea in resisting what so many before and since have done in banking on taxpayer money for their professional sport playpens. The three arenas opened in the mid to late 1990s – GM Place, the Bell Centre (Molson Centre) six months later in March of 1996 and the Air Canada Centre in 1999 – are to this day the only current major venues in Canada built privately and stand as testaments to the way sports & entertainment companies should go about their business. While there is room for public-private partnerships, the 20th anniversary of Rogers Arena is a reminder that fully taxpayer funded buildings should go the way of the Dodo Bird. It’s worth celebrating.

Bears of the Week

On a week in which FIFA agreed to turn over the emails of suspended Secretary-General Jerome Valcke – under investigation for his alleged role in a black market ticket scheme connected to the World Cup – the Swiss attorney general yesterday opened a criminal investigation into Sepp Blatter. Blatter resigned in February pending the election of his successor but it appears we’re only at the tip of the iceberg of the poor governance, shady dealings and questionable decision making that permeated his leadership of FIFA since 1998. We’re not sure what’s more astounding: The decision to run the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar from November 21st to December 18th or the extent of corruption that has been synonymous with the world’s largest single sport governing body these past two decades. The Swiss prosecution will help answer that question in the coming weeks and months.

Listen to The Sport Market on TSN 1040 AM Saturdays,7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Bulls & Bears airs at 9 a.m., followed by Weekend Extra with Sun Sports at 9:30 a.m. Follow Tom Mayenknecht at: Twitter.com/thesportmarket


 
 
 
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Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and the TSN Radio network, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.
 

Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and the TSN Radio network, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.

Photograph by: Vancouver Sun graphics, .

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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