Wildcats season-ticket holders score deal with City of Moncton

Moncton city council approved waiving a 50-cent per game fee for Wildcats season-ticket holders when the new downtown arena opens in September.

Estimates show waiving fee will cost the city $35,000 in 1st year

The Moncton Wildcats played the last 22 season at the Moncton Coliseum. The Irving-owned team announced it has signed a contract with SMG, the company running the new downtown centre, in January. (Submitted by Daniel St Louis)

Moncton city council approved waiving a 50-cent per game fee for Moncton Wildcats season-ticket holders when the new downtown arena opens in September to help fans adjust to a lack of designated parking.

The Irving-owned Wildcats and SMG, the company hired to run the downtown centre, announced a contract was signed on Jan. 25 for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team to be the main tenant at the stadium.

The recommendation was first made Dec. 4, 2017, at a special private meeting and then passed unanimously during Monday night's city council meeting with no councillor asking a question or offering comment.

Catherine Dallaire, the city's general manager of recreation, culture and events, described city's decision to waive its $0.50 fee as a "small gesture" to help season-ticket holders adjust to the lack of designated parking at the new centre. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

Catherine Dallaire, the city's general manager of recreation, culture and events, said every ticket sold at the downtown centre was going to have a $0.50 fee that would go to the city to be reinvested into the building for maintenance and upkeep.

She said SMG approached city staff with the idea of a discount for Wildcats season-ticket holders.

"Some (fans) will be making an adjustment with respect with how they get there and where they park," said Dallaire.

We thought this would be a small gesture on the part of the city to make that transition a little bit easier.- Catherine Dallaire, city's general manager of recreation

The Wildcats have played home games at the Moncton coliseum for the past 22 years. According to the facility's website, there are about 1,800 free parking spaces in front of the building. 

The city made a controversial move to build the new centre in the city's downtown with no designated parking.

"We thought this would be a small gesture on the part of the city to make that transition a little bit easier," Dallaire said.

With about 2,000 season-ticket holders, Dallaire estimates the city will miss out on about $35,000 in each of the first two years. After that, the fee will be "phased in" with season-ticket holders paying $0.25 per game during the third and fourth years of the contract, with the fee being reinstated to the full $0.50 during the 2022-23 season.

Dallaire said the city expects to earn about $400,000 a year through the fee, which will be applied to every ticket sold at the centre, except Wildcats season-ticket holders. 

Dallaire said it is reasonable to think the Moncton Magic basketball team will negotiate a similar deal should it sign on as a tenant.

"If the Magic entered into a similar lease agreement with SMG, I'm sure council would want to extend the same opportunity to those season ticket holders," she said.

The centre will become the new home of the Moncton Wildcats of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. (Contributed by Bird Capital)

The city's agreements with the Wildcats have been fraught with controversy in the past and have cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars. In 2015, Moncton councillors gave up their role in negotiating leases with the Wildcats and turned the responsibility over to SMG.

Under its contract with the city, SMG will run the centre and hand over a set amount to the city each year for 20 years or a share of the profit SMG makes, whichever is greater.

Dallaire said the $0.50 per ticket given up to some Wildcats fans does not affect the contract, adding, "this has nothing to do with that; this is purely a ticket fee."

The $111-million downtown centre is scheduled to open in September.

About the Author

Tori Weldon

Reporter

Tori Weldon is a reporter based in Moncton. She's been working for the CBC since 2008.