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Calgary new arena deal looks for the Flames

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This new deal appears to be far more favourable to the Flames owners than the arena proposal that broke down in 2017 and also more favourable than the deal Oilers owner Daryl Katz got in Edmonton.

That 2017 proposal would have seen the City of Calgary, the Flames owners and arena customers (through a ticket tax) each pay one-third of the cost of a new arena, Mayor Naheed Nenshi has said.

What is the cost sharing on this new deal? The details are murky but it looks like instead of paying 33.3 per cent as they were to do in the 2017 deal, the City of Calgary will now pay 50 per cent. The Flames owners will now pay just 22 per cent and the ticket tax will provide 28 per cent.

By comparison, the 2013 deal for Edmonton’s downtown arena saw the city of Edmonton pay 47 per cent of the $483.5 million project, the team owner Daryl Katz pay 27 per cent and a ticket tax pay 26 per cent.

I need to stress, though, that I can’t be 100 per cent sure of the Calgary cost-sharing arrangement. The City of Calgary has released all kinds of details crowing about the benefits of the new deal, but appears to be short on crucial details around the arena’s financing. That’s a huge problem for anyone, and especially Calgary citizens who are trying to form a credible opinion about the project in a short amount of time. The public only found out about this deal on Monday but city council has already proclaimed it will make a final decision on it next week.

Why the rush, councillors? Milan Lucic coming to glower at you if you don’t sign off?

Of course, proponents promote the deal for Calgary’s $550-million arena or “event centre” as a fair one, a 50/50 proposition, with the city and the Flames owners each paying half. As the City of Calgary website puts it: “The City of Calgary and Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC) will each invest up to $275 million to construct a new event centre.”

The city also reports the city’s $275-million contribution will primarily come from the city’s capital reserve budget.

But where is the breakdown of the $275-million contribution from the Flames owners?

The city said it will own the building but be paid an estimated $155.1 million over 35 years by way of a “facility fee,” essentially a surcharge on every event ticket sold. That’s the 28 per cent ticket tax portion of this project’s funding.

Calgary new arena

Drawings of street life in front of the proposed Calgary Event Centre.

Presumably, the Flames owners will make lease payments over time to pay for their 22 per cent share of the cost, $122 million in total, but that’s not clear.

None of this is to argue that this new Calgary arena won’t provide tremendous public benefit. It’s possible that it will be the catalyst for a massive amount of private investment in a rundown section of Calgary’s downtown.

The Edmonton arena project has certainly been a smashing success, with a gorgeous new arena and a surrounding development that has already seen more than $2 billion in private investment, including Canada’s tallest skyscraper outside of Toronto.

The Edmonton arena debate was angry and long, but at least all of the main financial details were published on the city’s website. No guessing was needed. Citizens knew what the city was putting in, what the ticket tax was and what Katz was being asked to pay. That doesn’t appear to be the case in Calgary and, combined with the rushed nature of council’s deliberations, it’s hard to see this as sound governance.

One of Mayor Don Iveson’s key campaign advisers, Chris Henderson, voiced similar concerns about the Calgary process. On Twitter, Henderson noted that Edmonton benefitted from a long and thorough debate with the public. “Sometimes it was a bit painful, but looking back today, it was measured and relatively comprehensive. This is something you need measurable discussion with the public on. Rush this decision and any issue with the deal or the building and the public will point back to this moment in particular. Is the (Edmonton) arena deal perfect? God, no. Did it benefit from a generally exhaustive public discourse? Yes, looking back, it actually did.”

Well said, Chris Henderson.

Calgary council would be wise to take more time here. A decision can still come in the next few months, but only after all the details are spelled out, after everyone has had a chance to digest them and after everyone is sure the deal is fair and beneficial.

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Specialness of Raptors veterans will help replace Kawhi, Green

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The Toronto Raptors didn’t just lose the NBA’s best two-way player, Kawhi Leonard, in the off-season, though that’s all everyone seems to talk about. The defending champions also saw one of the premier two-way role players, Danny Green, head to Los Angeles

Green had a tremendous season for Toronto, shooting a scorching 45.5% on three-pointers (third in the NBA) while also garnering plenty of All-Defensive team votes.

Though he struggled in the playoffs, Green was still a huge contributor toward the success of the team, both on and off of the court.

“He’s very consistent with the things that he’s going to do on the floor,” Marc Gasol told the Toronto Sun.

“He’s very vocal. Very positive. He doesn’t take things personal. He’s a veteran guy who has been around but has come up also through hard times and has been coached hard in his previous years (by Gregg Popovich in San Antonio) and knows what it takes to play at the highest level. And he was very good for us,” Gasol said.

“The general public doesn’t really notice what the other guys (besides Leonard) do (and) Danny’s one of those guys,” said Fred VanVleet.

He’s not flashy, his game isn’t very sexy, but I don’t know what he shot, 45% from three? Something crazy like that, at a high clip, played 80 games, played every night, guarded the best players on the other teams and he’s just solid every night,” VanVleet said. “You know what you’re going to get … (and) just having that experience here – He didn’t do a lot of preaching and teaching, he just was here and (led) by example and we’ll miss that.”

But life must go on. Nobody is singing a woe is me tune in Toronto.

“We don’t have that luxury (to bring back the full championship roster) so we have to find a new approach and a new path to get back there,” VanVleet told a few reporters in the lead-up to opening night.

“Just from a mental approach, there’s no chance for a championship hangover. If we don’t get it done it won’t be because we relaxed … We still have a lot to prove and we want to do it again,” he said.

With Leonard and Green gone there will be opportunities for everyone else to expand their games and their roles. From Pascal Siakam, to Gasol, VanVleet, Norman Powell and OG Anunoby, to Kyle Lowry likely looking more like the guy who averaged over 21 points a game from 2015-17 than the one who dropped to 14.2 a year ago, things are going to change.

“I always say it’s addition by subtraction and it’s great because those guys are going to bring something different than what (was lost),” Gasol said, not meaning it to be insulting in any way to Leonard or Green.

“I think the biggest thing is seeing how we key in offensively without those two guys,” VanVleet said. “Defensively I feel very comfortable … but offensively it can be a little tricky,” he said.

“It’ll take some time to figure it out, but I think having those two guys out is going to be a little bit more opportunity and also a chance to spread it around a little bit.”

Head coach Nick Nurse seems extremely confident with the group that he’s got for a number of reasons.

“I think there’s a specialness to some of these guys. And maybe it’s because they won or whatever, or maybe it’s just who they are,” Nurse said.

“To me, Marc Gasol is a really special player. Like, really special. Kyle Lowry, really special. Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam. I mean, there’s a lot of guys. There’s IQ, toughness, competitiveness, skill, fight, that are at levels that, well as a coach you kind of dream about having guys like that,” he said.

“And it shows when the group of them goes out together you see a level of smart basketball. A level of competitiveness and a toughness and those are important things.”

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Bianca Andreescu makes Canadian history by reaching No. 4 in rankings

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Bianca Andreescu has become the highest-ranked Canadian tennis player in WTA Tour history.

The 19-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., jumped one spot to No. 4 in the rankings on Monday following a week off.

That pushes her one spot ahead of her career-best No. 5 ranking, which tied a Canadian record set by Eugenie Bouchard in 2014.

Ranked outside the top 150 entering the season, Andreescu rocketed up the rankings with tournament wins at Indian Wells, Calif., and Toronto followed by her first Grand Slam win at the U.S. Open in New York last month.

Andreescu had a 17-match win streak snapped when she lost a quarterfinal match to Naomi Osaka at the China Open earlier this month.

The Canadian is scheduled to return to action at the WTA Finals, which begin on Sunday in Shenzhen, China.

Milos Raonic reached No. 3 in the men’s rankings in 2016, the best ranking achieved by a Canadian man.

On the men’s side, Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., jumped seven spots to No. 27 after capturing the Stockholm Open on Sunday for his first career ATP Tour title.

Montreal’s Felix Auger-Aliassime is the top Canadian at No. 18.

Raonic has dropped to No. 32.

Shapovalov, Auger-Aliassime and Raonic all are entered in the Erste Bank Open this week in Vienna, Austria.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 21, 2019.

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Mike Babcock out coached the Bruins

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At the beginning of the Maple Leafs 4-3 OT win over the Boston Bruins, I thought it was odd that Mike Babcock had switched Mitch Marner and William Nylander. I worried about how the Leafs were going to keep up with Boston’s depth and not lose out because of it. If only one line was able to produce, and it went up against the Bergeron line, the team wasn’t going to succeed.

Babcock’s solution was much more complicated than rolling four lines and it was brilliant.

Babcock and his coaching staff get an A+ for their effort and creativity last night because they were able to have their best matchup line (Matthews and Marner), while also maximizing Nylander’s time with the top line. Alex Kerfoot was a man on a mission and showed us that he’s much better at driving play than we thought he was. That goal he scored was fully deserved.

Jason Spezza wasn’t used much, but Frederik Gauthier and his mates killed it last night, they were super impressive. They beat the Bergeron line when they needed to, gave the Leafs positive and energetic minutes against the depth, and allowed Babcock to be super creative with his top-eight forwards.

That careful management and line matching honestly gave the Leafs the win. Without John Tavares — and for half the game Andreas Johnsson — they would not have beaten the Bruins in a normal game.

I’m less worried about the playoffs on Sunday than I was on Saturday.

Oh, and Mike Babcock (and all of you yelling at me) were right about Dmytro Timashov. I was wrong. He’s a fun little bugger.

The Branches

Here is the recap from the game I just talked about. It’s from Seldo so proceed with caution.

During the intermission, Nic Petan was brought up by Elliotte Friedman. The Leafs might be looking for a trade partner here. Gosh, I hope no one has any opinions about this in the comments.

From our friend-enemies at MLHS, the difference between reasonable and ridiculous takes and why you’re at fault for it.

For those who like to “hate watch” things, have fun with O-Dog’s ridiculous takes on… John Tavares?

Update on Andreas Johnsson: nothing broken, but he won’t practice tomorrow. Leafs play the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Bruins again on Monday and Tuesday this week.

From the Marlies, Kasimir Kaskisuo recorded his first shutout of the season in a 2-0 win over the Cleveland Monsters. Darren Archibald got his first as a Marlie and Egor Korshkov scored his fifth goal in five games. The Marlies are 5-0-0 to start the season and remain *perfect* on the penalty kill to start the season.

Captain Morgan?

Just kidding. Freddy Gauthier for Captain.

Branches Around the League

The Tampa Bay Lightning got trampled by three minutes of the Colorado Avalanche, in case you still want to say the Leafs are doomed.

Billie-Jean King is a QUEEN!

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