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Search continues for jumbotron funds

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

More than two months have passed since the city stamped a deal with the Oshawa Generals to see a new jumbotron above the ice at the General Motors Centre. However, where the money is coming from to pay for the new system is still unknown.

According to city officials, the plan is still in the works, with a report to come back at the end of the month.

“We’re still working on a funding strategy,” says Stephanie Sinnott, the city’s treasurer.

“We are planning to take a report back to the finance committee on June 23.”

The report, which will include recommendations from staff as to how to fund the $800,000-plus investment, will need to be approved at the June 27 meeting of council, the last meeting before the summer recess. If the measure is not passed, council will more than likely need to call a special meeting in the summer months to ensure the new system is installed prior to the Generals’ home opener in the fall.

According to the new shared marketing agreement between the city and the OHL club, renegotiated as part of the jumbotron deal, the city is set to receive a sizeable chunk of marketing revenue. However, if the system is not installed prior to the start of the season, the city faces monetary penalties for each game played without the new system.

The agreement stipulates the city will receive a fixed $260,000 as part of the deal. That revenue remains fixed until May 2019, at which point it becomes a minimum amount.

With several options at the city’s disposal, including borrowing the funds, financing from reserves, or relocating available funds in the existing budget, Sinnott says further debt will probably not be the recommended action.

“We do have enough capacity in our debt room to be able to finance it either internally, through our internal debt or externally through a debenture,” Sinnott explains. “At this point, I’m not sure our recommendation is going to include debt. But again, until council decides, we don’t have an ultimate answer.”

Sinnott adds the city is currently working with the GM Centre and Global Spectrum to determine a schedule for installation of the new system. The maunfacturer has also indicated it should not have a problem getting the new score clock operational before Oshawa’s home opener.

Calls to Vince Vella, the GM Centre’s general manager, for comment were not returned prior to press time.