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Senators: No tax break, no team in Ottawa

Mar 1, 2012, 11:28 AM EDT

Sens arena

Ontario’s finance minister, Dwight Duncan, maintains the ability for businesses to write off tickets to pro sports costs the province — currently facing a $16-billion deficit — millions of dollars in lost revenue. As a result, he’s taking steps to remove the tax break.

Not surprisingly, that’s not sitting well with the Ottawa Senators.

“We need that to survive,” team president Cyril Leeder told Postmedia. “We cannot have another whack to our ability to operate here. You could take away incentives in bigger cities in sports and those teams would find a way to make it work, but the ones that are not in the major markets won’t survive.”

This should be an interesting battle for hearts and minds in Ontario.

Duncan is appealing to hockey fans this way:  “Hopefully, Leafs tickets will become affordable for families. I know when a mom and dad take their kids out to a Leafs game, they don’t get a tax break. So it’s about priorities.”

Leeder is appealing to hockey fans this way: “We pay a lot of taxes here in this province. A lot. And we’re happy to do that, but we just want to be treated fairly. And if we’re not, we can’t stay.”

The Sens have had financial issues in the past – they filed for bankruptcy during the 2002-03 season and there was talk they could move. If not for the dramatic rise of the Canadian dollar and also the salary cap, they could easily be gone now.

  1. AlohaMrHand - Mar 1, 2012 at 11:32 AM

    the Seattle Senators………..

  2. hooockey - Mar 1, 2012 at 11:43 AM

    Hyperbole from Leeder.

    I highly doubt the owner (Melnyk) moves his team when he also owns the arena. Would he really want to own a $300 million “White Elephant” Scotiabank Place that is empty most of the time, and would have very little value without a hockey team? These rich sports owners have quite the shell game going: lose money with their teams, then cry poor for tax breaks, all the while making a fortune on the arena charging high rents to his own team and other events.

    If Melnyk didn’t own the team, I’d be worried, but he does, so he’s kind of stuck as his arena needs a team or it’s worthless. A more likely result is that the Senators become like Nashville and don’t spend to the salary cap anymore.

  3. pcjcusa - Mar 1, 2012 at 12:00 PM

    $16 billion >>>>> any sort of revenue to be gained by this proposal

  4. DTF31 - Mar 1, 2012 at 12:14 PM

    Ottawa isn’t a corporate city like TO so I acidly believe them in this. Ottawa is a city full of politicians and smaller businesses

  5. DTF31 - Mar 1, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    Actually * damn autowrong pisses me off

  6. bcisleman - Mar 1, 2012 at 12:17 PM

    What value does Melnyk place on the arena? Would loss of the tax break make owning the team and arena enough of a loser that he would sell out to a group from Quebec?. Could just be a bluff. As an Islander fan, I am used to this sort of game of chicken between owner and politician. In Wang’s case, however, there is a deadline of 2015. In the Sens’ case, its strictly the whim of the owner.

    • hooockey - Mar 1, 2012 at 12:35 PM

      Taxes are far higher in Quebec than Ontario, even if Ontario ends this tax break on corporate tickets.

      • bcisleman - Mar 1, 2012 at 1:42 PM

        Yes, but that will matter less if Melnyk SELLS the team to a group from Quebec.

      • bcisleman - Mar 1, 2012 at 1:44 PM

        Also, I suspect that pols in Quebec will fall all over themselves to give a possible new team all sorts of incentives including tax breaks.

  7. buffalomafia - Mar 1, 2012 at 12:36 PM

    Do I hear Quebec Nordiques?

  8. rainyday56 - Mar 1, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    Move the team to Glendale after the Coyotes leave.

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