If Council approves a downtown casino/entertainment complex, the companies the City just contracted to run Copps Coliseum and Hamilton Place will seek a change to their contract.
By Ryan McGreal
Published February 14, 2013
this article has been updated
According to Ward 2 Councillor Jason Farr, Global Spectrum and Live Nation will object strongly to the idea of a downtown casino entertainment complex that includes a performance venue.
The City just signed agreements with the two companies to run Copps Coliseum and Hamilton Place. The City has a separate contract with Carmen's Group to run the Hamilton Convention Centre.
The contact includes a guaranteed reduction in the annual subsidy the City pays to maintain the facilities, but a new downtown casino entertainment complex - like the RockHammer development proposed by a partnership between Carmen's Group, Nick Bontis and LIUNA - would move Global Spectrum/Live Nation to "seek contractual relief" from the guarantee.
In a 12:45 PM news conference at City Hall, Farr quoted an email reply from Frank Russo, vice president of business development and client relations at Global Spectrum. "At no time during the competitive bidding process were we made aware of the possibility of a competitive casino entertainment facility being developed in Downtown Hamilton!"
Farr stated that Brock Jones, vice president of event bookings for Global Spectrum, "believes a casino venue will fundamentally kill the market for entertainment events at Copps and Hamilton Place."
Farr also quoted an email from Riley O'Connor of Live Nation: "Live Nation has not been in any discussions with any potential operators or developers of a casino in the City of Hamilton."
Farr's statement concluded: "This information reinforces the significance of our pending motion (today) as it relates to Flamborough as our optimum casino site."
Councillors are expected to vote today on a compromise motion by Councillor Sam Merulla that identifies Flamborough as the city's chosen casino site, but opens the door to a downtown location if no bids are received to operate a casino there.
Here is the full text of Councillor Farr's statement:
Press Statement re. CASINO issue
Over the past few days, I have been receiving emails of concern with respect to maintaining Flamborough as Councils priority as a location for an expanded casino in our City. Some of these emails have emanated from the Ward 2 business community whose opinions are of obvious great value to our office.
As you know, last night, the City of Hamilton Council and the Mayor unanimously ratified an operational agreement between Global Spectrum and Live Nation for Copps Coliseum and Hamilton Place. This agreement seeks to ensure a better quality and more frequent quality entertainment downtown and a greatly reduced tax-payer subsidy.
With this agreement, Global Spectrum/Live Nation enters into a 5 year and 10 month agreement with the City of Hamilton guaranteeing that we would reduce the combined annual operating losses of Copps Coliseum and Hamilton Place by a minimum of $500,000 per (full) year.
The concerns expressed by some in our business community, and others, resulted in our Ward 2 office asking the question, how would a casino located downtown impact the future operations of our existing entertainment facilities here?
I reached out to the Vice President of Business Development and Client Relations at Global Spectrum, Frank Russo. This morning, via email, I received a communication that includes these comments from Mr. Russo...
At no time during the competitive process were we made aware of the possibility of a competitive casino entertainment facility being developed in Downtown Hamilton!
You asked me in an email . . . ."if Global Spectrum would welcome such a venue?" The simple answer is "No!"
Riley O'Connor of Live Nation believes any such new venue "will directly compete with Copps Coliseum and Hamilton Place."
Global Spectrum's Vice President of Event Bookings, Brock Jones, believes a casino venue will fundamentally kill the market for entertainment events at Copps and Hamilton Place.
If the City approves a casino entertainment venue, Global Spectrum and Live Nation would seek contractual relief for the subsidy reduction we guaranteed.
I hope you can appreciate our position on this.
Frank Russo, Sr. Vice President
Business Development and Client Relations
In addition to these comments from Mr. Russo. Further, I received this brief communication from Riley O'Connor of Live Nation...
"Additionally Live Nation has not been in any discussions with any potential operators or developers of a casino in the City Of Hamilton."
I feel it gravely important that the public, particularly those who, in the last few days have expressed their support of a Downtown Hamilton Casino / Entertainment complex, understand this position from the City of Hamilton's newly Council appointed operators of our existing Copps Colisium and Hamilton Place entertainment facilities.
This information reinforces the significance of our pending motion (today) as it relates to Flamborough as our optimum casino site.
Councillor Jason Farr
Update: Updated to include the full text of Councillor Farr's statement.
Update 2: Updated to add a video recording of Councillor Farr's statement, courtesy of livestreaming guru Joey Coleman.
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