By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
Rocco Tullio was trying to make council an offer they couldn’t refuse.
Prior to a planned closed meeting, the Oshawa Generals’ owner spoke to councillors, making an offer to pay for the entirety of a new jumbotron to replace the malfunctioning giant currently hanging over the ice at the General Motors Centre. In exchange, Tullio request “concessions” on the shared marketing agreement the Generals currently have with the city.
“I’m not here to fight, I’m trying to work with the city,” Tullio said.
Talks between the two organizations have been ongoing since the summer. After an initial offer from the Generals fell through – an offer for partial payment of a new system along with sponsorship and ad concessions – it was rumoured the two would be going to arbitration to reach an agreement.
It’s a route Tullio says he doesn’t want to go.
“The reality is I want to try and resolve this,” he said. “I don’t want to go that route. We would prefer to sit here and take serious consideration of the proposal we’ve put forth in front of administration.”
The aging scoreclock, the oldest in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), has called the GM Centre home since it opened in 2006. When it was installed, the severely outdated, rear-projection model was already eight years old.
A new jumbotron could run anywhere between $800,000 and $900,000, depending on the model and enhancements. A previous model cited in an earlier city report put the cost at $822,000.
Tullio will pay it all, he says, as long as an agreement can be made regarding the shared marketing revenues.
Currently, the Generals handle all the advertising in and around the GM Centre; however, half the revenues they make are handed over to the city.
The details of a deal were not provided prior to council going into closed sessions.
Following that, council affirmed the direction to staff that was made in closed session, and according to Mayor John Henry, the Generals’ administration would hear the outcome of that direction on Feb. 4.
The results of their decision on Tullio’s offer were not available as of press time.
This past summer, discussions between the city and the Oshawa Generals, detailed in a city report, states the hockey club offered $60,000 annually over the next five years, totaling $300,000 to assist in paying for the clock.
The money came on the condition that the marketing agreement between the city and the Generals be extended for that five-year period and an independent reviewer be allowed to review the clock as needed.
However, the city felt an extension of the marketing agreement would put them at risk, locking them into the same terms for the next seven years. The current marketing agreement, which sees the Generals bring in the revenue from in-game advertising, still has two years remaining.
The city made a counteroffer, which was turned down by the team, following which, talks dissolved completely.