MPA Major Research Papers

Date of Award


Degree Type

Major Research Paper

Degree Name

Master of Public Administration


Political Science


Lyons, Joe

Geographical Areas

Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg


The modern era of sports venue funding (post-1984) has shown a shift toward downtown revitalization arena projects as a remedy to the costly nature of sporting venue public-private-partnerships between municipalities and major league franchises. Sports franchises use their advantage to request attractive funding packages from desperate municipalities because of factors such as the supply and demand of franchises, municipal competition, and growth in consumption-based economic development. In response, the purpose of this report is to determine how municipalities can maximize leverage when trying to secure downtown sporting venues funded by public-private-partnerships. More specifically, which set of “leverage variables” under municipal influence allows favorable funding arrangements and a successful downtown revitalization? Calgary and future cities in public-private-partnership debates are offered recommendations following the study. Edmonton and Winnipeg are compared through a qualitative multi-causal, most-similar-systems case study, consisting of five “leverage variables”: financial capacity, coherence of business interest, macro decisions, civic cultural identity, and civic leadership. Findings show the increased use of tax tools like community revitalization levy’s, franchise dominated entertainment district development, a focus on increased urban density, mayoral influences, and a lack of public consultations are prominent trends in the case studies. For municipalities to maximize leverage in recent public-private-partnership funding negotiations, it is recommended they use development related tax-tools, avoid budget increases, plan and develop the arena district with the franchise group, contribute to public supporting infrastructure, continue extensive macro planning, diversify civic culture, and display transparency.