PETER CONRADI/Bullet News
The Niagara IceDogs will keep their name and make their home in St. Catharines for at least 20 years.
Mayor Brian McMullan and team owners Bill and Denise Burke signed a deal Friday at city hall that makes the Ontario Hockey League club the primary tenant for the new downtown arena, expected to open in 2014. The agreement stipulates the franchise does not have to change its name to St. Catharines IceDogs, which had been requested by St. Catharines council, but was never met with favour by the club.
“We’re six year into being Niagara IceDogs … it’s not only locally it can affect us, but we have trademarks worldwide,” Burke said. “For us it becomes a tedious undertaking when they bottom line is that we are very proud to play in St. Catharines and very proud to represent Niagara. To change things at this point, I don’t think it would be a proactive thing to do.”
Instead, St. Catharines will have its name included on the centre-ice logo, as well as used in media, promotional and marketing strategies.
“The IceDogs will undertake some things to make it more obvious that they play in the city of St. Catharines,” McMullan said.
The financial terms of the contract are based largely on ticket sales. The city gets 10 per cent of the proceeds from gross ticket sales, plus a $1 surcharge on every one sold. The city keeps revenue from arena naming rights and parking. The two sides are splitting money that is generated from inside advertising, suites, club seats and concession sales.
“If it’s a full house, obviously it’s better for the city and for the IceDogs,” Bill Burke said. “Ten per cent is the model that is followed (in the OHL). Some teams are at five per cent and some sign 10-year leases.”
The city hopes the team can average 3,500 per game, which would mean $850,763 per year back to the public coffers, taking into account concessions and advertising sales.
Burke is looking for the team to draw 4,000 or 4,500.
The new agreement will be in effect once the spectator facility, to be built on land known as the lower level parking lot at 55 McGuire St., is substantially completed in 2014. Until then, the original lease agreement between the IceDogs and the City for use of the Jack Gatecliff Arena, which expired in June, will be extended.
As part of the agreement, the IceDogs will receive space in the new downtown spectator facility for storage, team offices, a retail store, workout rooms, lockers and dressing rooms, in addition to ice time for practices and games.
McMullan said the city is working with a consultant to come up with someone to purchase naming rights. Council has said it is looking to get $5 million for that.
There will also be 21 suites for sale. St. Catharine CAO Colin Briggs said they will likely sell for $15,000 a year with a minimum of three or possibly five years, plus the requirement to purchase IceDogs tickets and tickets to other events.
“We don’t really know a lot of those details yet,” Briggs said. “We haven’t started to market them yet.”