W. Graeme Roustan as Chairman and CEO of GTA Sports & Entertainment (GTASE) began investing capital in 2010 in the venture to build the GTA Centre in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
Mr. Roustan assembled a team of professionals to study the concept of building a 20,000-seat arena in Markham. After many months and a great deal of at-risk capital was invested, the determination was made that it would only be feasible if an outside group paid half the cost.
The team consisted of professionals who had a great deal of experience in the design, construction and operation of arenas in Ontario, the rest of Canada, and around the world. BBB Architects and PCL Construction had designed and built the Air Canada Centre in downtown Toronto, and had been involved in many other arenas. Global Spectrum was chosen as the arena operator partly because it operated more than 100 like kind venues.
The developers in Markham, led by The Remington Group, were overwhelmingly supportive of this type of facility being built in Markham and wanted to be part of the funding mechanism. Mayor Scarpitti, working with other members of the Council and their staff, came up with a formula where 50% of the arena construction cost would be paid by developers and no contribution would come from residential property taxes. One hundred percent of the construction costs would be paid for from the private sector and zero percent from property taxes.
As the proponent of the GTA Centre, at no time did Mr. Roustan ask the City of Markham to have its residents contribute even one penny from their property taxes. Mr. Roustan proposed that Roustan Capital would provide 50% of the construction costs and that the developers in Markham would pay the other 50% of the construction costs through a series of contributions.
Opponents on Council were not satisfied, and on December 5th, 2013, Council rejected the financial formula whereby the developers and the proponent would invest $325,000,000 into the community.
In early 2014, a search for another location began and three new sites met all of the criteria necessary to be deemed feasible according to the standards set out during the Markham site evaluation process.
With the NHL’s announcement on June 24th, 2015, that new franchises might become available in the future, Mr. Roustan informed the NHL of his interest in obtaining a franchise for the GTA but was unable to submit an application during the 2-week time period but communicated that it was still working on the development of the GTA Centre.