Canucks Sports and Entertainment, the ownership group of the city’s NHL franchise, could be tapped to pay part of the multimillion-dollar bill for the June 15 riot that followed the hockey team’s lucrative but underwhelming, goalless performance in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final.
Mayor Gregor Robertson has yet to ask the professional sports organization to contribute, saying the topic has been “a difficult conversation in the past.”
“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.”
Business sports analyst and brand communications specialist Tom Mayenknecht believes Canucks Sports and Entertainment can improve its standing in the broader community by offering to contribute to riot costs, as well as future public events, rather than wait to be asked.
“It’s in the franchise’s best interest to not let these kinds things just happen on the backs of taxpayers because of the fact that their brand benefits. But it can be more than just a cash contribution,” he said, adding the club could contribute its considerable experience in event management.
Mayenknecht, who holds Canucks season tickets, estimated the Vancouver hockey club grossed as much as $40 million during the playoffs. “It doesn’t take long to say even a percentage point contribution would have bolstered the security that was deployed that night,” he noted.
“There is no rule that says the franchise needs to behave a certain way in the community, but I think there is a tremendous opportunity for the Canucks—given how successful they are, given how great a job they do running their business—that going forward they consider being a part of the solution.”
The overall cost of policing and managing the crowded fan zone on Georgia Street during the seven-game playoff series was more than $1.3 million, according to a city review of the causes, consequences and costs of the riot. That total grows by $466,000 following one night of destruction.
Robertson noted the partnership between the city, the Canadian Football League and B.C. Lions in advance of November’s Grey Cup at B.C. Place. “We want to see that style. That seems to be the best practice globally and we don’t have that here [with the NHL].”
In fact, the city’s review castigates the NHL, which it says “in spite of four Stanley Cup riots in the last five years have no approach, no policy and no apparent strategy to work with host franchises and municipalities on this issue which clearly will over time threaten the value and perception of their brand.”
The Canucks organization last week announced a “responsible fan behaviour” marketing campaign that will employ television, Internet and billboard advertising as well as in-house announcements at Rogers Arena.
— Vancouver Courier