Stadium Studies

Halifax Regional Municipality has recently spent $100,000 on a Stadium Analysis Report.While providing lots of data about stadiums in other cities, and about other economic and demographic facts in the metro area, the report does not provide anything that would constitute a business case analysis.

But here is what can be deduced from the report:

  1. The recommended version has 10,000 permanent and 10,000 temporary seats . This would not qualify for consideration by either professional football or professional soccer teams. The size seems to have been chosen because it is the minimum necessary to compete for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup tournament
  2. The expected usage is about 50 days per year, the majority of which would not require substantial seating capacity. In other words, most of the events do not require a stadium.
  3. The list of hoped for events requiring the indicated capacity is highly speculative. For example the FIFA event will be hosted in four to six cities. There are already more than ten such facilities in other Canadian cities with much more compelling demographics for hosting such an event. For subsequent years the projection includes national and international events in soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey. But a survey of comparable facilities in cities such as Ottawa, Quebec, or Moncton suggests that they have had little or no luck seeking comparable events.
  4. The forecasted operating loss is about $500,000 per year. But this does not include the costs of attracting the international events that are the main source of attendance. Any jobs created after the construction phase will primarily be low wage and seasonal.
  5. A capital cost forecast is not to be found in the report but the data from other stadiums suggests that this would be at least $25 million and could exceed $50 million. The province has already indicated that it is not willing to be a participant at this time. The federal government has sounded more supportive but is extremely unlikely to be involved unless the province is in. It is therefore extremely unlikely that a go forward decision could be reached in time to compete for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

In spite of these considerable challenges Municipal Council has decided to spend a further $275,000 on another report. Is this because councilors find the report encouraging? Why is money being spent wondering where to put a facility for which no viable business case is likely to emerge? Or is it easier to ask for more reports than to answer the hard questions about what would constitute a satisfactory business case?