The Oshawa Generals and the City of Oshawa are currently in negotiations to renew the team’s lease with the city, but negotiations have stalled.
An anonymous source has told The Oshawa Express the Gens and the city have reached an agreement financially, but the team needs more space, and with the COVID-19 pandemic hitting the city, negotiations have stalled.
Generals’ owner and president Rocco Tullio told The Oshawa Express the team has been negotiating with the city for about a year now, and it has “gone reasonably well,” but not as fast as the team would like it to go.
“We’re still trying to push the city and have calls with Mayor Dan Carter,” he says. “The mayor’s been great, but we’re kind of in neutral right now and we’re trying to push the city to see if we can get this across the finish line.”
While Tullio notes the team and the city have agreed on the financials, it’s the need for more space which has put the brakes on the negotiations.
“We need more space, we need more storage space. Right now we’re renting a space off site, and we don’t want to do that anymore, we want to have everything in house,” he explains.
Tullio notes they need at least three offices upstairs in the Tribute Communities Centre, their coaches don’t have an office downstairs, their video team doesn’t have an office, they need a board room, and various other additions.
“These are the things that we need… for the longevity of the Oshawa Generals, and being able to maximize our revenues and so on and so forth,” he says.
Right now Tullio notes several employees are “doubled up” in their offices.
“Our marketing people are doubled up, our ticket people are doubled up, our social media and our creative people are doubled up,” he explains.
The offices they need would be 10 by 12 feet. The team also needs an expansion to its weight room between 400 and 500 square feet, a parent’s lounge which would be another 400 to 500 square feet, and another 2,000 square feet in the upper levels of the Tribute Communities Centre for administrative offices, as well as an increase in the size of the team’s pro shop.
“It’s too small and we can’t really put all of our product out at one time, and that’s a good revenue source for us,” he says.
With negotiations at a stalemate, the possibility of leaving Oshawa is on the minds of those doing negotiations, but Tullio tells The Express that is only a remote possibility, and he wants the team to stay.
“That’s always a possibility. It’s remote, but it is a possibility,” says Tullio. “Look, we’re doing everything possible to stay here. We’ve invested in the city, we’ve invested in the arena, we’re trying to bring a Memorial Cup here to the city. I think we’ve demonstrated we’re a good corporate company, and we want to be here, but the city has to step up and help us out here.”
He adds the team has been in the Tribute Communities Centre for almost 15 years now, the team pays more money than any other team in the Canadian Hockey League per sitting capacity, and “the things we’re asking for are reasonable.”
“It’s not like we’re demanding things that are out of the city’s control, these are under the city’s control, and hopefully we can get across the finish line, and hopefully we never have to broach [the idea of leaving Oshawa],” says Tullio.
Speaking with The Express, Carter says the council realizes the Generals are a very important partner Oshawa, and he believes there’s a good relationship between the city and the team.
“They have 10 more years on their lease, and we are in discussions about extending it, and finding out how the new lease terms need to be structured, and council has been very supportive in regards to the process,” says Carter.
The mayor notes while he can’t speak for the teams “business actions,” he can say council and himself understand how important the team’s 85 years in Oshawa have been to the city.
“We’ve built a world class facility, and continue to invest in that facility, and we truly believe that the home for the Oshawa Generals is the City of Oshawa,” says Carter.
While the financial side has been settled, Carter notes the team and the city are still in negotiations in regards to the additional space the team is asking for.
“We’re just trying to figure out logistically what’s possible and what is not possible,” says Carter. “Their organization has grown tremendously over the last few years. The building didn’t anticipate they would have 30 or 35 staff members – junior hockey has changed so dramatically.”
Carter notes the city is working to address the needs of the Gens, and wants to accommodate the needs of the team.
“This is ongoing, it’s going to continue to be ongoing until it’s resolved, and I’m very optimistic it’s going to be resolved,” says Carter.
Carter notes he doesn’t even want to think about the possibility of negotiations falling through and the Generals leaving Oshawa.
“Eighty-five years of history. It’s a rich part of the foundation and the fabric of our community, they are an important partner for the city, and I am bound and determined, and this council’s bound and determined, to be able to find a way to make sure that our partnership continues on for many more years,” says Carter.