By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
It’s been a thorn in the side of many Oshawa Generals fans for years.
It’s not a small thorn either; it’s an electronic behemoth that hangs high above the ice at the General Motors Centre and broadcasts images akin to those of an early-90s model television.
The jumbotron, which has hung above the ice since the centre opened in 2006, has been in need of replacement for some time, and fans are going to have to wait a little longer after the community services committee referred the item to the 2016 budget process.
At the start of this hockey season, Oshawa Generals fan Robin Barnier started a petition to have the city look into having the jumbotron replaced.
When Barnier appeared before the community cervices committee in December, his petition had garnered more than 3,000 signatures collected during 13 Gens’ home games.
He says he takes the city’s current decision as a positive thing.
“I will take some solace in the fact that it didn’t say no. It said, let’s wait,” Barnier said of the city’s report.
Two options in the report list the price of a new jumbotron in the neighborhood of $722,000 for a base system, or $820,000 for a system with a few more bells and whistles.
Barnier said he was upset by the fact that the city squandered an offer from the Oshawa Generals to assist in the payment of the clock.
“To see in the report the team stepped forward and offered a sum of money…and have them shot down in flames,” he said.
During discussions between the city and the Oshawa Generals, the city’s report states the Generals 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.
“Extending the shared marketing agreement, which currently has two years remaining in the term, by an additional five years will not provide the city with any ability for the next seven years to negotiate different terms for the execution of a more favourable or equitable advertising and marketing agreement with the Generals or an external third party agent,” the city report states.
The city then made two counter offers to the Oshawa Generals. First, it suggested the team pay and finance the clock themselves. The second was to alter the Generals’ original offer, asking for the $300,000 up-front at the time of purchase and eliminating the other two conditions.
Following this, the Generals withdrew their original offer.
A request for comment from the Oshawa Generals’ business staff was not returned as of press time.
Now, along with looking into options for funding the replacement of the clock, a decision on which has been pushed until next year, city staff are looking into options for funding other parts of the GM Centre that will need to be replaced soon.
Currently no reserve fund exists to cover these costs.