Thursday, September 24, 2020 - 9:30 AM

Council Statement: Mile One Centre Privatization

Image of Mile One Centre

Businessman Dean MacDonald is floating the idea in the local media that he would be interested in purchasing Mile One. MacDonald has stated that private ownership could offer a lot of improvements to the facility.

While concepts for a redesign of the facility have attracted some positive feedback from the public and some residents on social media have supported the idea of privatizing the facility, it is important to understand the process that would be required should the City and St. John’s Sports and Entertainment consider a privatized model for the facility. A study prepared in 2019 on the possibility of third-party management for Mile One brought to light some key considerations if we were to consider selling the facility:

  • The consultants could find no examples of any municipally-owned medium or large-capacity arena having been sold or leased, long-term, in Canada.
  • There are a lot of risks with selling a public asset, especially loss of control. For example, new owners could potentially change the use of that facility, leaving the City without a large sports and entertainment venue.
  • Although the operation of Mile One is not without cost, there are economic benefits of having a facility like this in our community. Hotels, restaurants, bars and retail stores benefit from an active sports and entertainment facility.
  • Owning Mile One allows the City to bid on national events like the Brier, for example. If we were to privatize, we would have to consider how we would attract those events and what kind of offers we could make to potential renters, given that we would no longer control the main facility. 

None of these factors prevent us from considering privatization, however, it is clear that the public would like for the City and SJSE to present a definitive answer on this matter. So, we have currently hired the same consultant who completed the third-party management report to quickly provide advice for us on the sale/ privatization model. Here are some factors that we know will weigh into this decision:

  • If we decide to explore privatization, we will need to have a competitive process. If we were to engage now with one potential owner, we could unfairly disadvantage a competitive bidding process. So, we will not be meeting with Mr. MacDonald or any other potential owner for Mile One.
  • Although some people like the idea of privatization, not every resident or industry stakeholder would support this, so a public consultation process would be required. 

We will share the results of the consultant’s report this fall and ensure the public are aware and engaged in any consideration of selling this public asset. The Board of St. John’s Sports and Entertainment and Council wish to assure residents of the City that any decision to sell Mile One will only be made with the best interests of residents in mind and using proper due diligence, including the retention of professional advice and a thorough examination of the many relevant factors impacting such a decision.

The mandate of SJSEL is to operate exceptional facilities that provide value to citizens, businesses and visitors by attracting events and activities that generate economic benefit and enhance community vibrancy.  It should be stated that both the Board and the City have confidence in all employees of SJSEL and their ability to deliver on this mandate.

Councillor Jamie Korab
Chair, SJSEL