September 09, 2011
(UPDATE: Vancouver mayor Robertson clarified his comments via Twitter: "Media headline on me asking #Canucks to pay for riot not true. City is paying costs. We want to partner for future events.")
According to Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, "the costs related to big celebrations are borne by everyone who is benefiting."
The riots that occurred in his city after the Vancouver Canucks' Game 7 loss to the Boston Bruins provided quite the education in cost/benefit analysis, because Robertson wants to engage the local NHL team in a "difficult conversation" about the Canucks' financial liability for the riots.
"That's definitely an open discussion and one that we need to have with the Canucks and the league [to] make sure that it's equitable, that the costs related to big celebrations are borne by everyone who is benefiting," said Robertson, speaking to reporters Tuesday after the Vancouver Police Board met to discuss the police department's own internal review into the riot. Robertson sits as chairman of the police board.
"It's been a difficult conversation in the past and there hasn't been willingness, but given what's happened, I'm hopeful that there is some receptiveness with that going forward," he said. "I haven't asked yet. Those are discussions that are going to happen, though."
According to The Province, the fan zone in the city for the Stanley Cup Final cost more than $1.3 million in policing and crowd management, with an additional $466,000 in costs from the riot.
Should the Canucks be on the hook for any of this?
With the benefit of a time machine, sure.
As we pointed out following the release of the city's report on the riots, the Canucks and the NHL didn't organize, fund, facilitate or sponsor the viewing part in Vancouver for the Final. The city hired a producer, rented four gigantic LED screens and encouraged the crowds to grow throughout the series by hyping the event and closing down additional streets to inflate the crowd numbers.
The report encourages, and the mayor can certainly ask for, the Canucks to be more involved in the planning of these events during the playoffs. (Let's leave the NHL out of it, because their participation is as unnecessary as calls for its responsibility for the riot are absurd.) But they weren't involved in this party; retroactively asking them to cover costs to wrong.
In the future, the team has to consider if their responsibility for a game night ends at the arena doors, and whether sharing the liability for what happened after Game 7 is in their best interests — especially when police have said it wasn't hockey fans who sparked the mayhem.
As far as reparations for the June riot … well, the team could be bullied into repaying the city because it's good PR, but essentially the mayor is asking them to pay for a party they didn't plan. It's like having a birthday party in a roped-off portion of a pub and having to pay the tab of the drunk who knocked over the jukebox at the other end of the bar.
Fact is, the city and Robertson were the driving forces beyond the street party. From Jason Brough at the Kurtenblog:
Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson couldn't have been more excited. The city was inviting over 100,000 people downtown to watch the game on a big screen. What a blast it would be.
"We ditched the no-fun city (label) years ago and this pushes us to the top of the list as a fun city," Robertson bragged. "We're setting a new bar in North America as the most fun city, we have a top NHL team in the Vancouver Canucks . . . and we've put on the kind of top sports celebrations you'd see in Europe or elsewhere."
Had Game 7's party gone off without a hitch, that would have been the benefit to Vancouver. Instead, "no-fun city" became "holy [expletive] they're burning down the city" and, suddenly, there was no benefit — only cost, which the mayor foolishly feels the Canucks should share. (Ed. Note: See update at top.)
But hey, give him some credit: He didn't ask the Bruins to kick in any cash for creating a hostile atmosphere.