Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Casino Royale Rebound....Watching PavCo Bounce



Update: Mr. Turner himself has now pretty much confirmed my supposition below regarding when he called Mr. Kruger by telling Justine Hunter of the Globe on Wed Apr 7th that he estimates he placed the call to the Minister sometime 'around October' (of 2009)

I've been wading through the publically available documents involving the recent decisions of PavCo, a British Columbia Crown Corporation not headed by T. Richard Turner, that is responsible for making decisions about BC Place Stadium and the Casino project that Mr. Turner has a financial interest in.

And, for the record, reading through those documents has been a tough slog, and I'm not yet done.

But, so far, I have seen nothing that contradicts the following timeline that regular commenter 'A Dave' posted-up over at Harvey Oberfeld's place earlier today.

May, 2008: Province (of British Columbia) announces upgrade to BC Place, including seat replacement, renovations to washrooms and concessions, and the replacement of the Teflon covering with a new retractable roof – total cost estimated at $150 million.

November, 2008: Province Treasury Board approves PavCo’s $365 million business case for all renovations noted above, with an estimate given by PavCo’s David Podmore that it will cost $200 million for the retractable roof alone – the approved business case is over $200 million higher than the original estimate of only 8 months prior.

October 23, 2009: Province reapproves PavCo’s revised business plan at $365 million, but only a month later a fixed-price contract to replace the roof (none of the other work is included) with Poole Construction is signed for $468 million(*) – the roof work alone is suddenly $268 million more than Podmore’s $200 million estimate of only 11 months earlier.

Note: Nearly $100 million in renovations have been reported completed prior to the Olympics, including both a seismic upgrade of BC Place, and reinforcing the concrete ring around the lip of the stadium to ensure the weight of the new roof would be properly supported. These large structural upgrade costs would, therefore, NOT be included in the fixed $468 million work contract with PCL.

Now, why is this timeline important?

Because it's going to be vital to compare this to the timeline of all of PavCo's decisions regarding the Casino deal itself (and decisions regarding other potential 'bidders', including non-Casino residential developers....that either were not preferred, or who dropped out early).

Heckfire, we can already make one critical comparison, which is that Paragon Gaming Inc., the Las Vegas gambling concern that Campbell government insider T. Richard Turner is part owner of was chosen as the preferred bidder in late June of 2009 while the fixed price contract for the Stadium roof was not announced until later that fall.

Now - according to the Minister responsible for the Marshmallow, Kevin Krueger, he received a call from the good Mr. Turner telling him that any pullback on the retractable roof might be a potential deal breaker for Paragon Gaming Inc.(**) Critically, also according to Mr. Krueger, that call from Mr. Turner occured after June of 2009 and sometime before winter set in.

Which means that, based on the timelines described above, it is at least possible that Mr. Turner's call to Mr Krueger took place during that period between the summer and fall of 2009, when, presumably, active decisions about the retractable roof were still being made by PavCo.


(*) The number is actually $458 million.
(**)It is important to point out that,
in an interview the VSun's Jonathan Fowlie, Mr. Turner stated, apparently unchallenged by the good Mr. Fowlie, that he did not tell Mr. Krueger that the loss of the roof would be a deal breaker.....Thus, for the moment, at least in part because Mr. Turner has either not been asked to give interviews to other members of the Press, or because he has appears to have avoided granting one to Sean Holman, who broke this story, we are left with a bit of a "he said/she said" situation regarding what, precisely, was said during the phone call in question.....Regardless, however, neither party has contested the fact that the phonecall did, in fact occur, and that both the roof and the casino deal were discussed during it.....
Update: The latest from Mr. Fowlie, in the VSun confirms the Oct 23, 2009 fixed contract announcement date.




Gary E said...

Ross, I think that one could also get the impression with this time line and the alleged "deal breaker" call that all these horrendous cost escalations could be to finance the casino. At least that's my opinion.

RossK said...


At the very least, it would not be unreasonable to suggest that the hugely expensive retractable roof was not a requirement of the sports teams that will be using the revamped and re-jigged facility.

And while folks have recently been using the newly proposed Winnipeg Stadium as a cost comparator, it is also worth noting that Toronot's BMO Field, which everyone there has gone completely (notLady) gaga over, cost less than $100 million to build in its entirety.


cfvua said...

Follow the money. Who will build it and what are their connections? Will it even get tendered on BC Bid? Good investigative work.

RossK said...


Good suggestions all, but....

Wasn't that stuff already nailed down in the fixed price bid from PCL Construction that was announced on Oct 23, 2009?