By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
The negotiations with the Oshawa Generals proved fruitful for the City of Oshawa, netting them a large share of the shared marketing dollars over the next seven years. However, where the money will come from to pay for a new jumbotron at the General Motors Centre is still unknown.
“Currently, we’re looking through opportunities within the existing budget to find that money,” Mayor John Henry tells The Oshawa Express. “Our hope is that we find it within the budget this year, recognizing that we immediately start to get recovery, which helps us.”
Starting next month, the city will be receiving $260,000 from the shared marketing agreement signed with the Generals, re-negotiated with the team as part of the deal for a new scoring and video system. That revenue remains fixed until May 2019, at which point it becomes a minimum amount.
However, if the new system is not installed prior to the start of the 2016/2017 hockey season, that revenue will be slashed proportionate to the amount of hockey games without the new clock.
The new deal also stipulates the Gens will keep all of the revenue from advertising on the new clock until the end of the season in 2019, following which it will be split evenly with the city.
“It was a great arrangement,” Mayor Henry says. “Very difficult negotiations, but in the end, the city is obligated to honour their contract.”
The original contract, signed prior to the opening of the GM Centre in 2006, stipulated the city must maintain a working scoreclock within the arena.
The owner of the Oshawa Generals Rocco Tullio echoed the mayor’s comments, saying the agreement, while a long time coming, is good for both parties.
“It was obviously a win-win for both the city and us,” he says. “We were able to extend the contract, which gave the city piece of mind and they knew we had a relationship with them…on the same token we’re able to put a deal together for the new video board.”
With a new system in place, the hope is that the arena will be able to host a larger range of events, both for sports and entertainment. While the 2017 Memorial Cup has already been awarded to the Windsor Spitfires, speculation has circled that the Generals are interested in bidding for the 2018 tournament, which would be the event’s 100th anniversary.
Tullio says the club certainly plans to place a bid for the tournament, but several things must come together, most importantly, the team must show they would be able to compete.
“The team has got to be one of the most important criteria because I want to win,” he says. “We think we’ve got a good opportunity to replicate the formula that we did when we won in Quebec. So, we’ll take a look at our team this year and evaluate, and if it is the right mix and the right blend…then yes we will (bid).”
The replacement of the aging score clock at the GM Centre, which has hung over the ice since the arena opened, 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. A deal was eventually reached on April 11 following arbitration.