New Toronto arena doesn’t need NHL tenant, despite sucking up to NHL owners

Puck Daddy

The current collective bargaining stalemate between the NHL and the NHLPA involves how the players' cut will be tabulated in the coming years. The owners would like to see the players' share slowly decline. The players would like it to slowly rise.

At stake: How much the owners would receive from future financial windfalls.

For example, when the NHL's Canadian television rights are up for bid in 2014; and, looking further down the round, potential expansion fees.

Say, for another team in the Greater Toronto Area.

[More: Ten things you didn't know about NHL commissioner Gary Bettman]

As you might have heard, a new $325-million arena in Markham, Ont., is in the preliminary stages of development, with former Bauer chairman Graeme Roustan as the driving force. Could it become the home for a new NHL franchise near Toronto?

Roustan has steadfastly claimed that isn't the motivation, and that spillover acts from the Air Canada Center and other events would justify its construction. He also maintains that there's no handshake agreement with the NHL in place to promise his arena a franchise.

Perhaps that's the case; and, perhaps, some of Roustan's recent business partnerships are an indication that he's courting favor with two of the most influential men on the NHL Board of Governors to eventually clear the way for a franchise there.

As Sean Fitz-Gerald of the National Post wrote on Friday, both Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider and Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs now have a stake — albeit tangentially — in the arena project.

From the Post:

Jacobs is chairman and chief executive of Delaware North Companies, which bills itself as "one of the world's leading hospitality and food service companies," generating more than US$2.5-billion in revenue a year. Delaware North has been added in an unspecified capacity with the Markham arena project, known as the GTA Centre.

Snider is chairman of Comcast-Spectacor, and a subsidiary, Global Spectrum, has been enlisted as an adviser for planning the arena in Markham. If the building is approved by city council, Global Spectrum will manage and operate it.

Roustan tells the Post that his personnel moves — including his hiring of former Montreal Canadiens marketing exec Ray Lalonde — are less about making a run at an NHL team for the new barn, er, building, and more about familiarity.

"I happen to have spent the last five or 10 years in the hockey world, so most of the people that I know are from that industry," he told the Post.

Outside the Game from Yahoo! Sports:

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