2003 - 2004
February 24, 2004
Hockey team expected to break even
Concessions and parking fees will allow the Greensboro Generals to avoid a financial loss.
BY MATT WILLIAMS
GREENSBORO - The head of the city-owned Greensboro Coliseum said Tuesday that he expects the Greensboro Generals to break even if attendance continues at its current level through the remainder of the season.
Managing Director Matt Brown presented a report to the City Council projecting that the minor-league hockey franchise would lose more than $150,000 this season. But profits from parking and concession sales could erase that loss to the city.
Brown said that with those concession revenues, "we would meet your expectation and our obligation not to incur any taxpayer dollars in the operation of the Generals."
Brown and the coliseum assumed management of the Generals with the informal support of council members last summer after he convinced the team's original owners, led by Greensboro attorney Art Donaldson, to lease the team to another ownership group led by Greensboro businessmen Bill Black and Don Brady. Instead of leasing the coliseum's arena to the team as it had for the first four seasons, Brown agreed to have the coliseum manage the team's operations and pay its expenses.
Before the season, Brown set a goal of reducing the team's costs to $1.2 million, compared to a league average of $1.9 million. The report presented Tuesday projected the team is on track with those estimates.
Brown noted that if the city hadn't stepped in to run the team, the coliseum would have potentially lost $260,000 in concession revenue. In addition, having an anchor tenant makes advertising and luxury boxes in the building more attractive.
Mayor Keith Holliday thanked Brown, and said that the city and the coliseum would have suffered if the coliseum hadn't stepped in.
"Sometimes you make decisions that might seem like a negative," Holiday said. "But when you look at the other side of the coin and it's more negative, you have to make the best of a sometimes bad situation."
The break-even figure includes $200,000 that the new ownership promised to pay the coliseum to offset the expense of running the team. Black said earlier this week that he was still raising money from investors to make the payment.
The council did not discuss whether the coliseum would operate the team next season. Black said he preferred having the coliseum manage the team, but City Manager Ed Kitchen has said that the coliseum's involvement is not meant to be a long-term arrangement.
The Generals have seven home games remaining in the regular season, including three this week the coliseum has heavily promoted. The final home game is March 30.
In other business, the council discussed how it should implement the city's comprehensive land-use plan, which was adopted last year as a 20-year guide for future growth.
Recently, a developer has asked the city for approval to build a shopping center that city planners say is not allowed under the land-use plan. Many council members have expressed surprise that the plan would preclude specific developments and want the staff to rework parts of the plan.
Council member Tom Phillips said he was concerned that' a map in the plan that was the basis for rejecting the shopping center doesn't reflect the reality of what is going on in the real estate market.
Holliday suggested that a committee discuss the idea with staffers and come up with a plan for processing development applications that may conflict with the land-use plan. The council also discussed ways to lease out space in the newly renovated bus and rail station known as "The Depot." A real estate broker hired by the city has been, unable to find tenants for the space several months after the building opened.
Council members did instruct their staff to draft a lease agreement between the city and the Carolina Model Railroaders to allow the group to stay in a 4,500-square-foot space at The Depot for a reduced rental rate.
The council would then vote on the agreement at its March 2 meeting.
Contact Matt Williams at 373-7004 or firstname.lastname@example.org