Originally created 11/27/98

Toronto's SkyDome to seek legal protection from creditors



TORONTO -- SkyDome Corp., owner of Toronto's retractable-roof sports stadium, confirmed Thursday it will seek legal shelter from its creditors.

The stadium is home to the Blue Jays and the NBA's Raptors.

The company will initiate restructuring proceedings Friday under the Companies Creditors Arrangement Act, the company said.

The company, in a statement, blamed its woes on "many factors that are negatively impacting the business as well as changes to the sports, entertainment and economic environments in which SkyDome operates."

Blue Jays' attendance fell last season and the owners' lockout has kept the Raptors from playing.

SkyDome bondholders, mainly insurance companies, are owed some $40 million.

The filing for protection from creditors will not effect the day-to-day operation of the stadiums, the company said.

Upcoming events include Canada's collegiate football championship, a show by rock group Kiss, the Canadian International Dog Show, Disney on Ice and a World Wrestling Federation event.

SkyDome, opened in 1989, is 49 percent owned by Interbrew, the Belgian beer multinational which owns Labatt Breweries and 90 percent of the Blue Jays, the stadium's major tenant.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce owns 10 percent of SkyDome, and also 10 percent of the Blue Jays. Most of the rest of SkyDome is owned by Penfund, a Toronto investment firm with a 34 percent stake.

The Blue Jays announced Thursday that they have reached a new 10-year lease agreement with SkyDome -- subject to court approval.

Earlier this month, the American League team demanded new terms with SkyDome following the expiration of the previous lease at the end of last season.

"The new lease agreement provides the Blue Jays with an improved lease over the long term," the team said in a news release. The terms were not disclosed.