York shelves stadium project

The dream of an outdoor stadium in Toronto appears dead after York University pulled the plug Thursday on a facility to play host to the 2007 FIFA World Youth Championship, reported The Globe and Mail May 13. The stadium story made headlines in newspapers and on radio and television news broadcasts across Canada.

The University made the announcement 10 days after the Toronto Argonauts said formally they were withdrawing from the $70-million project they helped hatch last fall, taking $20-million in financing with them, reported the Globe. “It’s not an easy decision we’ve had to make, but it’s the right one,” said Gary Brewer, York’s vice-president  finance and administration. “We’ve been doing a lot of work since last October when we initiated the project, and found ourselves in a situation where we had to almost go back to square one. We were trying to redesign a stadium to fit a $50-million budget, but we were really just two years away from when the stadium would [need to] be ready for the 2007 tournament.”

Thursday’s announcement is not only a severe blow to the Canadian Soccer Association’s 2½-year quest to build a Toronto stadium, but it also leaves the organization searching for one or more hosts to replace York during the International Association Football Federation (FIFA) tournament, noted the Globe.

The York stadium project was born last October after plans for the Argos and CSA to partner with the University of Toronto fell apart at the school’s end. However, with timelines so tight, none of the parties had to commit financially to the project until its proof of concept, design details and costing were complete, said the Globe. That wasn’t until early April. “The terms had some flexibility and that was to protect both sides,” Brewer said. He added that Argo owners David Cynamon and Howard Sokolowski, who both attended York, have volunteered to reimburse the University the costs it incurred in the project.

  • The National Post reported that Brewer said York is planning no legal action against the Argos, as had been suggested in some reports last week. “We certainly have not contemplated, at any time, legal action,” Brewer said. “And indeed, in discussions that we have had recently with the ownership of the Argos, they have actually volunteered to reimburse the University for costs that we’ve incurred should the project not proceed. And we’ll be pursuing that with them in detail.” The $8-million commitment from the provincial government has been taken off the table, said the Post. But the $27-million from the federal level could still be available if the right proposal for a stadium in Toronto ever arrives, said Joe Volpe, minister of citizenship and immigration.
  • Canadian Press quoted a statement from the Argonauts: “We regret the proposed stadium will not go ahead. But we respect that York University has to fulfil its obligations just as we must fulfil ours to our fans.”

Deadlock is not a crisis, expert says

The dispute over confidence that is gripping Parliament would be a crisis only if the government refused to have a confidence vote, says Patrick Monahan, dean at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, reported the Ottawa Citizen May 13. But in this case, a limit has already been set and the matter will be settled next Thursday. “From time to time there are battles and deadlocks. We have a clear way to resolve this. If Martin loses the vote, he is going to resign.”

Sponsorship scandal born of political war, says prof

The Ottawa Citizen interviewed Wesley Cragg, professor of business ethics at York’s Schulich School of Business, for a May 13 story on the Gomery Inquiry into the sponsorship scandal. Cragg, chairman of the anti-corruption group Transparency International Canada, said it is important to remember that much of the work was outsourced to private firms. Most businessmen feel it is the government’s responsibility, not theirs, to watch out for corruption. And he added Canadians forget how frightened the country was in 1995 after the Quebec referendum on separation was so narrowly defeated. “There was a real sense you could cut corners to accomplish a crucial task. There was a sense of political war,” Cragg said.”When you’re at war, your life is at stake, so you have a right to do things that you otherwise couldn’t do.”