Report on sale of Mile One done, but decision by St. John's council is weeks away
'A big decision. We're not selling a used car on Kijiji here,' says Coun. Jamie Korab on any potential sale
A consultant's report on what the potential sale of Mile One could look like has been completed, but it will still be weeks before St. John's city council will decide whether selling the stadium is an option.
Coun. Jamie Korab, chair of St. John's Sports and Entertainment, which subsidizes the operation of Mile One and the St. John's Convention Centre, said an independent subcommittee will get the report from consultants KPMG Wednesday or Thursday and review the findings.
It will then go to the SJSE board of directors for review to make a recommendation to council.
"Ultimately, it will be council that will decide if they go down the path to sell Mile One or not," Korab said, adding that before any decision is made, the report will be released and some sort of public consultation will take place.
There's an interested buyer and it's our responsibility to entertain that.- Coun. Jamie Korab
The report was originally expected to be done in December, but Korab said there was a lot of information-gathering required.
"We want to get this out as quick as we can; we don't want to hold onto this any longer than we've got to. It's not gonna be shelved, but it is gonna take time," he said.
"This is a big decision. We're not selling a used car on Kijiji here; this is a taxpayer asset, so we want to make sure we do this right."
KPMG was previously hired to prepare a report on third-party management, released in 2019. Since then, Korab said an interested party — Dean MacDonald, owner of Deacon Sports and Entertainment and the Newfoundland Growlers — has come forward looking to purchase Mile One, prompting the second report.
"I think what changed is last year was more about third-party management, and now that a group has come forward looking to purchase, we want to do due diligence. We just don't want to push something off or sweep it under the rug — we want to look at it from all angles, and again that's why KPMG were consulted," Korab said.
"There's an interested buyer and it's our responsibility to entertain that."
There isn't a purchase price for Mile One and the Convention Centre yet, Korab said; an assessment would be sought only if council does, in fact, move toward a sale process.
'A fair and competitive process'
This week on the Newfoundland Growlers website, there's a new portal called the New Mile One, a page that shows MacDonald's plans for the arena if his company is able to purchase it.
In September, MacDonald released renderings and a $25-million makeover plan for Mile One — even though the building is not yet for sale.
Korab said, to his knowledge, there hasn't been another buyer who has approached the city, but that's unsurprising, since there have been no requests for proposals or requests for information.
If council decides the best thing to do for the city is selling Mile One and/or the Convention Centre, it will issue RFPs to see what other options are available.
"We want to make sure it's a fair and competitive process. We won't be sole-sourcing the sale of Mile One to one individual — we'll open it up, have a fair process, because at the end of the day it's a valuable asset certainly worth in the tens of millions of dollars and it's built with taxpayers' money, so we want to do our due diligence," Korab said.
"Right now certainly the hockey community and people of that nature, they look at the design and it's something that looks great, but there's other people that [think] selling it isn't the best thing.… It's built with taxpayers dollars so we've got to do the best thing for the taxpayers."
Korab added that he "certainly doesn't feel pressured" by MacDonald and the plans already issued, and there would be more information required before any sort of sale could happen — if that is, indeed, what the city chooses to do.
"I had a quick look at it. There's some great ideas there, certainly a lot more details will be needed, but that will be something that will come out once — if — it does go down the route of going to RFP and RFI," Korab said.
"Someone's interested, we're doing the process, we're entertaining that and we're gonna go through the process every step of the way, and if at the end of the day it's the best thing to do for the taxpayers of the city, then that's something we'll do."
With files from Jeremy Eaton