Rob Ford supports Raptors facility but wants cheaper fees

TORONTO – Rob Ford is on board with spending $1 million to help build a practice facility for the Toronto Raptors at Exhibition Place but only if it’s cheaper for the community to use.

The practice facility would be built for the Toronto Raptors but when the NBA team isn’t using it, it would be available for Torontonians.

Rob Ford however says the roughly $160 an hour fee for community groups is too expensive.

“I’m sorry I cannot accept that. These are the types of kids that we have to concentrate on,” the mayor said. “To give them the opportunity to come down to a practice facility where professionals play is ideal. So I think it’s a good deal for the city. It’s going to benefit the Toronto Raptors.”

The mayor says he plans on moving a motion at next week’s council session to lower the cost.

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The project involves the city spending $1 million to build a parking lot next to the facility. Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment are picking up the bill for the construction of the $30 million facility and all operating costs.

The team will also pay rent to the city, which a report suggests could add up to approximately $2.6 million over 20 years.

Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong thinks it’s a good idea for the city and for the team to attract better players.

“We’re getting a brand new piece of infrastructure built and its going to be a beautiful recreation facility. It’s needed for the Raptors, because thye need it for their players to practice,” he told reporters at city hall Wednesday. “For the community it’s great, because when they’re not training, it can be used by the community and it’s not costing the city a lot of money, so there doesn’t seem to be a substantial amount of downside in this deal.”

The report goes to city council next week.

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