Frank, some things at City Hall probably are kind of done deals.
Frank King, president of Northwest Neighbors, has opinions and insights, which he often shares with the City Council at their Wednesday evening meetings.
Thursday afternoon, King couldn’t have been more disappointed.
The evening before, King told the council, during its public comment session, that he had some thoughts about the proposed deal to amend the city’s Ice Arena lease with the RoughRiders junior league hockey team.
The issue of the Ice Arena lease was on the council’s consent agenda, which is the place for items the council considers routine and not in need of discussion.
Members of the council, though, assured King that the agenda item – which changed the ownership name on the RoughRiders lease with the city to reflect a change in the team’s owners – had nothing to do with proposed amendments to the lease terms. King was told that the lease amendment would be addressed by the council at an upcoming meeting, which would be a better time for King to weigh in on matters.
By Thursday, King says he had come to see it was, in reality, all a done deal.
On Thursday morning, the new owners – three couples including team coach Mark Carlson and his wife – held a news conference at the city’s Ice Arena to officially announce the purchase of the team from a Chicago group.
The Thursday news conference was announced via City Hall press release to introduce.
By Thursday evening, TV news was awash with talk of new Jumbotrons and a new era in RoughRiders hockey. The Gazette’s sports section had been talking about it for a few days.
It all started late last week when the city’s Five Seasons Facilities Commission agreed to lease modifications with the team’s new owners, though the commission’s decision must be approved by the council.
The proposed lease changes reduce the team’s rent for the Ice Arena and give the team a 10-percent cut in concession revenue in exchange for the team’s immediate investment in arena improvements. Those include a new scoreboard and media screens.
What with the City Hall news release and the Thursday morning news conference, King says he finds it hard to imagine that the council now will raise any questions about the proposed lease amendments.
So he wishes he would have had his say Wednesday evening.
His wish, too, is that the council wouldn’t have given him the impression that its action Wednesday night was of little consequence and that he should save his thoughts and any thunder for the next time.
King said that, yes, he wouldn’t have minded seeing the new hockey team owners at the Wednesday evening council meeting. They could have introduced themselves to the council before it agreed to put the new owners’ names on the city lease that runs through 2020. King says the new owners also could have used the public meeting to explain to council members and the public what their plans were and why they needed to pay less rent at the arena.
King doesn’t think the deal is good enough for the city.
At the end of the day, the council does depend on the Five Seasons Facilities Commission to do much of the work related to the city’s facilities. The commission, which holds public meetings that few if any citizens attend, has done that with the Ice Arena lease.
Patrick DePalma, the commission’s chairman, said the new owners and the proposed changes in the lease help assure the city keeps a hockey team and keeps the principal tenant of the city’s ice arena. DePalma said lower rent and sharing some concession revenue is a good trade off to get the team to invest now in some arena improvements.