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City all in on jumbotron

Deal reached with Gens over new center ice screen; costs could be as high as $900k

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

When the city announced it had reached a deal with the Oshawa Generals for a new jumbotron at the General Motors Centre, hockey fans rejoiced. However, there are still many unanswered questions – mostly, where will the money come from?

On April 11, following discussions behind closed doors, council passed a recommendation included in a confidential report relating to the jumbotron. On April 14, the news was made public that a deal had been reached between the two organizations, but the details were limited and the city still remains quiet.

However, The Oshawa Express has learned that the city has agreed to pay for the new system in exchange for an extension of the shared marketing agreement currently in place with the Generals, according to the teams owner.

“It’s the city’s asset, the city is taking responsibility of paying for it,” Rocco Tullio, the owner of the Oshawa Generals, tells The Oshawa Express.

“In return, we’ve agreed to extend the marketing agreement and there’s obviously a dollar amount attached to that marketing agreement that the city gets.”

Tullio would not provide specific details of dollar amounts, but said it was a good deal for both sides and that the new system will generate “significant revenue for their coffers.”

When asked about the new agreement, Mayor John Henry would not provide further information, due to the report still being in the midst of going through the process to become public.

“I can’t comment on it,” he says.

“We will be putting something out very shortly that defines the contract, but what I will say is it took a great amount of effort on behalf of the city to work with the Generals and their ownership to bring forward an agreement that worked for everybody.”

Price estimates have put the cost of a new system anywhere between $800,000 and $900,000. A previous request for proposals (RFP) sent out by the Generals came back with a price tag of $822,000 for the desired system, but sources close to the negotiations have said the price is closer to $860,000.

Tullio says a second RFP is being sent out by the Generals this month with hopes the new jumbotron will be installed in August, in time for the 2016/2017 hockey season.

The new clock will replace the oldest system in the Ontario Hockey League and, according to the city’s news release announcing the deal, it will meet the standards required by the Canadian Hockey League when considering a location to host the Memorial Cup championship, something the Gens have expressed interest in bidding for in the next two years.

“By being able to do these little things and give back to them (the fans) shows we are reinvesting in our product and it’s not always about us – it’s always about giving back,” Tullio says, adding the team is also looking into the possibility of installing an on-ice projection system, now being used by many teams in the NHL.

For Mayor Henry, he says he hopes the new system will help the GM Centre with more than just an improvement to the hockey experience.

“This will give us the opportunity to take the GM Centre to that next level,” he said.

The saga to replace the aging score clock at the GM Centre, an ancient piece of technology that has hung over the ice since the arena opened in 2006, began more than a year ago.

Prior to the Generals’ Memorial Cup winning season, fans petitioned to have the city look into replacing the score clock, with 3,000-plus fans signing their name to the cause.

What followed were rounds of discussions between the city and the Generals that saw several offers cross the table last summer before each one consecutively fell to the way side.

Tullio says he’s happy it’s all behind them.

“For us to finally bring it across the finish line, it’s a great gift for everybody and that’s what we’re looking for,” he said.