SkyDome seeks bankruptcy protection

The owners of the SkyDome, Toronto's 56,000-seat retractable-roof sports stadium, confirmed Thursday they will seek legal shelter from creditors. Restructuring proceedings will be filed in court Friday.

The move follows reports all week of mounting debts incurred by SkyDome, which bills itself as "the world's greatest entertainment centre." The complex has been losing $3 million a year and owes millions in back taxes.

Both The Globe and Mail and National Post report that SkyDome owners want a new interim lease for the Blue Jays and a deal whereby the baseball team would provide a $4 million quick fix for existing SkyDome debts.

The newspapers say the recent court action is to consolidate control of the Blue Jays by Interbrew, the Belgian company that owns Canada's Labatt Breweries. Interbrew owns 90 per cent of the Blue Jays and 49 per cent of SkyDome.

Bankruptcy protection is being sought under provisions of the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act.

Despite SkyDome's financial crisis, the entertainment complex has generated impressive spinoff benefits to both Ontario and Toronto. CBC News Online has learned that SkyDome generates millions of dollars in goods and services as well as tax benefits.

Figures from the Metropolitan Toronto Convention Centre for 1993, the year the Blue Jays won the World Series, show that SkyDome generated $264.8 million in goods and services in Metropolitan Toronto, and $351.9 million to the province of Ontario.

SkyDome also generates $60 million in tax revenue for Metro Toronto and $70 million to the province of Ontario.