Saint John explores selling, leasing TD Station operations ahead of looming budget deficit

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As Saint John looks to soften the blow of a $10 million deficit, the city is exploring the option of selling TD station, one of its biggest assets. Travis Fortnum has more, – Jan 21, 2020

The City of Saint John is entertaining the idea of selling or leasing the operation of TD Station.

A call has gone out for expressions of interest as part of the city’s attempts to soften the blow of a looming deficit.

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“It’s an example of how we’re doing business differently at city hall today and that this is about driving more value for taxpayers,” Mayor Don Darling said.

The city says local taxpayers contributed $588,000 to the operation of TD Station last year, with outlying communities’ contributions bringing that to $820,000.

Selling off TD Station operations could save the city almost $600,000 a year. Travis Fortnum

“What we’re looking to see is if there’s interest from experienced parties across the nation — could be from anywhere, actually — to see if there’s an opportunity to attract someone to buy, lease, operate the facility,” Darling explained.

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According to the arena’s website, the facility features 6,300 fixed seats with the capability to accommodate up to 7,600 with temporary seating/standing room for concerts.

The Gatineau Olympiques practice on the TD Station ice. Travis Fortnum

The city has signed a five-year deal to keep the Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League at the venue until 2024.

Under any potential sale, that agreement, the naming agreement with TD and the general use of the facility would need to remain the same.

The expression of interest says a new owner or operator would be responsible for maintaining the facility, essentially eliminating that cost for Saint John.

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As next year’s anticipated $10-million deficit approaches, the mayor says this could just be the start of selling off municipal assets.

“It’s not just TD Station. In my opinion, it has to be the Aquatic Centre next, and after that, it should be any operation where we see an opportunity to save money for taxpayers but also to enhance the benefits of the facility,” Darling said.

The City of Saint John spent the final six months of 2019 exploring the cuts it could make to reduce the projected deficit.

The expression of interest is open until Feb. 14, when a process of consideration will begin.

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