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Posts Tagged ‘Ice Arena’

A neighborhood leader with a thought on the Ice Arena faces the fact that some things are done deals

In City Hall on May 29, 2009 at 7:41 am

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.

Council changes name on Ice Arena lease to clear way for new RoughRiders owners; proposed lease amendments will be considered later that trade lower rent for arena improvements

In Cedar Rapids Ice Arena on May 27, 2009 at 5:00 pm

In routine fashion, the City Council last night reassigned its Ice Arena rental lease to a new owner of the RoughRiders junior hockey league team.

Newco Riders LLC – a six-member ownership group which consists of three couples including RoughRiders head coach Mark Carlson and his wife – is purchasing the team from Mercantile Capital Partners of Chicago.

The new owners have scheduled a news conference for 11 a.m. today at the Ice Arena to formally announce the purchase of the team.

The RoughRiders have made the city’s Ice Arena home for 10 seasons now.

Last night’s council resolution pointed out that the new owners will continue to be subject to Paragraph 27 of the existing Ice Arena lease, which does not relieve new owners of the existing lease’s obligations. The lease runs through April 2020.

The city’s Five Seasons Facilities Commission has agreed with the new owners to amend the existing lease in a way that reduces annual rent and gives the team 10 percent of the concession revenue in exchange for the owners’ investment in a new scoreboard and media screens and other capital improvements.

Patrick DePalma, chairman of the commission, said Wednesday that the commission has signed a non-binding letter of intent with the new owners to amend the existing lease. The City Council must approve the amendments after a public hearing at a later meeting, he noted.

DePalma said the RoughRiders currently pay about $155,000 a year in rent for use of the arena, but get none of the facility’s concession revenue.

DePalma said the proposed amended lease would reduce the rent to $90,000 a year for five years before it begins to increase. The lease proposal also gives the hockey team 10 percent of the hockey arena concession revenue. DePalma estimated that 10 percent is about $60,000 a year. The city currently receives about $240,000 a year in concession revenue, which is 40 percent of a total of about $600,000. The new owners’ share will come out of the city’s portion.

In exchange, the new owners have agreed to make immediate improvements to the city arena, including installing a new scoreboard and media screens.

DePalma said the immediate infusion of money by the new owners should help increase attendance, which has declined in recent years.

DePalma called the proposed lease amendment “fair and balanced.” It keeps the RoughRiders in the arena until 2020 and brings in new owners who DePalma said have “a passion” for the game and the team.