Before people started accepting news in free form as whatever was trending on social media, we were encouraging business and government to work together. We called it by various names such as business-government partnerships but the essential component was the need to understand that the ultimate beneficiary was supposed to be the Canadian public.
In the late 1980s, one of the more remarkable examples of this partnership was SkyDome in Toronto, where the Blue Jays came to play baseball. At a shared public-private cost of around $600 million, few people really understood the benefits to the people of Toronto, of Ontario or Canada.
For one, it put more lustre for Toronto on the world map. It generated billions in tourism. It drove a steady stream of rebuilding to that part of Canada’s largest city. It helped bring Toronto to life. At least it did until ignorant provincial politicians paid off the debt of about $400 million and sold the building to private interests, including Labatt Breweries, for $151 million. Which seemed like quite a bargain despite the continued financial problems of the time. Labatt’s solution was to sell SkyDome in 2004 to Rogers Communications for $25 million.
But the death knell of any landmark is when you try to give it a new and commercial name. It is still our SkyDome, to us old time baseball fans.
But would you believe that these people who got SkyDome for a song, are now talking about tearing it down. They think they can build another smaller baseball park, with natural grass, nearby.
This new park would be further ‘enhanced,’ according to the proponents with new condominiums and office towers to improve the revenues from the property.
Luckily, the land that SkyDome sits on is not part of the deal for which these schemers paid so little. The lands are leased from a federal government-owned company that specify the only use for these old railway lands is for a ball park and entertainment facility. We might be lucky if this agency says ‘No’ to this new plan.
Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry
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