Increase in Saint John sports facility rates raises concern

Click to play video: 'Saint John looking to increase sport facility fees' Saint John looking to increase sport facility fees
As the city of Saint John continues to deal with an ongoing deficit, it's looking to an increase in sport facility fees to make up the difference. But organizations that use those facilities say the increase could hurt their bottom lines. Andrew Cromwell reports – Feb 15, 2021

We are well into the winter sporting season but summer sports, in particular facility fees, were discussed at the latest session of Saint John Common Council.

The city estimates fee increases this summer could mean a hike of more than $80,000 in revenue.

Kevin Ferguson, president and head coach of the Saint John Alpines senior baseball team, says the team is looking at an $11,000 increase since it last played in 2019.

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He says that’s a lot of money for the team.

“It makes our situation very untenable,” Ferguson said.

“Then there’s the issue of getting what you’re paying for. Moncton, Fredericton and Chatham have hosted numerous national championships at the senior level,” Ferguson said.

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“I rest my case on … paying premium dollar on a facility that doesn’t have the quality to host a national title.”

Meanwhile, Hockey New Brunswick says that it has dealt with this year’s increases with minimal damage but adds that continuing the trend will make it difficult.

Click to play video: 'Fans, team remain hopeful Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season to return' Fans, team remain hopeful Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season to return
Fans, team remain hopeful Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season to return – Jan 15, 2021

“We need to be competitive with these other municipalities and other facilities to make sure these events … are still hosted here and they come here,” said Chris Green, Hockey New Brunswick’s interim development commissioner.

Members of Common Council say they understand that many people are opposed to these increases but say they are necessary in order for the city to move forward with its financial sustainability plan.

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“Everything had to be looked at and field rates had to be adjusted as well,” Coun. John MacKenzie said. “It’s not something that we enjoy doing and we hope that it’s not going to inconvenience teams too much.”

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