City of North Bay strikes new arena agreement with its OHL team
NORTH BAY -- The City of North Bay and the North Bay Battalion are amending its arena lease, license and loan agreement.
Designed to reduce financial risk, council voted Tuesday night to amend the agreement with the Ontario Hockey League team. Under the new deal, the city has to repay the team $3.99 million it borrowed for upgrades to Memorial Gardens.
Two councillors voted against the motion, including Coun. George Maroosis, who said the city could have made a better deal.
“It’s our residential taxpayers who are on the hook,” Maroosis said.
The old agreement has been in place since the Battalion left Brampton. That agreement could have seen the city pay the Troops a $377,000 fee if ticket sales dropped. This part of the deal has been eliminated and the city will also receive $2.50 from each ticket sold to maintain the building.
The original lease, signed in 2012, provided the Battalion the option of terminating the agreement and collecting repayment of any outstanding balance on the loan under certain circumstances.
Rally around the team
"We're hoping people rally around the team and support it because it is important for us to have," said North Bay Mayor Al McDonald. “This was just a deal to make sure both sides were treated fairly and you can argue it wasn't a win-win or a lose-lose."
The new agreement removes the requirement to share in revenues related to season tickets, gate, suite licenses, advertising commission and in-ice logos. But the city will continue to have exclusive rights to all advertising opportunities in the arena during city-run special events and will share evenly with the Battalion all revenues from arena naming rights, including centre ice logos.
“We always say North Bay is a hockey town -- I don't know if that's true anymore,” said Maroosis, referring to the team struggling to fill the arena.
On average, only about 2,000 fans pack the stands for a home game. Memorial Gardens can hold roughly 4,300 people. But, the club is optimistic the team is heading in the right direction.
"Adam Dennis, our GM, has done a terrific job to put together a really promising future for us,” said North Bay Battalion President Mike Griffin. “Our first two seasons in North Bay, we had the building packed because we put something out there that people wanted to see."
As of last June, the Battalion has collected and paid nearly $3 million to the city under terms of the old lease agreement.