Sports Facilities

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Possible Public/Private Partnership with Canada on New Sports Venue

29 Jul, 2015

By: Tracey Schelmetic
Hamburg, New York, and Hamilton, Ontario Proposing to Work with U.S., Canadian Entities

Cities and regions that wish to attract sports venues are becoming more creative in how they are financed. Not every voter is a sports fan, and – particularly in regions that have seen hardship due to the global economic slowdown – funneling taxpayer money into a new sports arena is seen as irresponsible. Still, state and city governments see new sports venues as the ticket to a better economy.

The small town of Hamburg in upstate New York recently announced a proposed public-private venture with a Canadian firm for a multiuse sports complex. The town is considering signing a contract with Nustadia Recreation, which is headquartered in Hamilton, Ontario; and D.V. Brown & Associates, a mechanical contractor located in Tonawanda, New York. The agreement between Hamburg and Nustadia would entail the latter building a sports complex at its own expense that would be managed in cooperation with the Hamburg Recreation Department and Nustadia, according to town supervisor Steven J. Walters.

The eyebrow raising part of the deal, according to Barbara O’Brien writing for the Buffalo News, is that if the venture loses money, taxpayers will be expected to fill in the holes. Nustadia would pay the first $67,000, and after that, a contingency fund would kick in, and the town would be on the hook for extra expenses.

“If the complex cannot be self-sufficient, the town is essentially No. 3 in a three-step process of funding deficits for the facility,” Walters told the Buffalo News. “There is some potential, but we are working to limit that or avoid that altogether,” he said.

Hamburg, which is south of Buffalo and near Lake Erie, has a population of only 56,936. Currently, the only tourism amenities the town boasts is seasonal public waterfront access to Lake Erie. The next steps to move the deal forward must come from Nustadia.

The company is preparing reports to determine whether the complex would be able to run without subsidies, as well as what amenities would be included. The town, which hasn’t chosen a location yet for the new facility, is currently working with youth sports organizations to determine demand for the facility.

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