By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator, Friday July 20, 2012
Carmen’s has mega-plan for HECFI
Banquet hall owner Carmen’s has pitched a grand plan for Hamilton’s convention centre that includes eliminating its annual taxpayer subsidy and adding a 44-storey hotel and condo development.
Owner Peter Mercanti vowed to immediately cut the annual taxpayer subsidy by $1 million if the city turned over control of the money-losing convention centre to his group, which also includes local entertainment promoter Loren Liberman.
“You will not find people more passionate about Hamilton than us,” said Mercanti, who has already built a $10 million hotel next to his Stone Church Road banquet facility. “Our family has a track record of delivering what we promise.”
The pitch was one of four councillors heard from groups competing to take over all or part of the Hamilton Entertainment and Convention Facilities Inc.
There were five until Monday, when the world’s largest venue management company and its partner withdrew their bid to run Copps Coliseum.
The Spectator’s Andrew Dreschel reported Wednesday that Los Angeles-based Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) and Edmonton-based Katz Group notified the city Monday that they are no longer taking part in the privatization talks.
Taxpayer subsidies to HECFI are pegged at about $6.5 million for 2012, but most years they average $7.5 million to $8 million.
AEG/Katz’s withdrawal leaves four other proposals on the table for running the three city-owned HECFI facilities — Copps, Hamilton Place and Hamilton Convention Centre. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)