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Markham will build a massive arena (which, of course, has nothing to do with getting an NHL team)

(Image: Marlon E)

Late last night, Markham council decided to move ahead with plans for a colossal arena in a meeting with several digs aimed squarely at Toronto (one councillor: “I’m looking forward to seeing the Markham Chargers beat the Toronto Maple Leafs”). The town will borrow $162.5 million to pay half the cost of the 20,00-seat complex, while private partnership GTA Sports and Entertainment, chaired by Bauer Performance Sports chairman W. Graeme Roustan, will pony up the other half of the cash. Though the arena will be bigger than nearly every NHL arena, Roustan denied that it’s NHL bait, saying the venue can stay afloat with concerts and the like if no big teams come calling. We’re not fully buying that story, since most arenas of that size have an anchor team, and a confidential report suggests Markham is concerned non-hockey events won’t be enough of a draw to pay all its rent—there’s even been talk of negotiating a termination clause if Roustan doesn’t deliver a big-league team within a reasonable time frame. Still, the ambitious plan has us reflecting on Markham’s ongoing campaign to rival Toronto: just imagine the bruised egos if Markham gets both a casino and a better hockey team. [Toronto Star]