2003 - 2004
September 12, 2003
Hockey coach on city payroll
Mayor Keith Holiday says the city is paying the salaries of the team staff "in part to save the Generals."
BY MATT WILLIAMS
The city is paying the $61,464 annual salary of Greensboro Generals coach Rick Adduono and other front-office employees for the Greensboro Coliseum's anchor tenant.
City payroll records obtained by the News & Record show that Adduono was hired by the Greensboro Coliseum, a department of city government, with the title "Hockey Coach" on July 1. Rick Francis and Dana Bridges, listed on the Generals Web site as sales and marketing representatives for the team, were hired Aug. 1 by the city as well.
The hires are the result of an agreement between coliseum Director Matt Brown and Generals managers for the city-owned arena to assume day-to-day management of the team's operations.
Mayor Keith Holiday confirmed Thursday night that the city was paying the salaries "in part to save the Generals."
He said the city will receive a percentage of ticket, concession and parking sales from the privately owned team, but he did not know the specific amount.
Earlier this year, city officials announced that Brown would be in charge of the team's day-to-day operations, including advertising, marketing and ticket sales. The issue of who paid salaries was not addressed. On Thursday, Holliday said it went without saying that the city would be assuming payroll for some Generals' employees. "I would hope some (citizens) understood that," he said. "Nobody's trying to hide the fact that the city of Greensboro is in the hockey business."
Brown didn't respond to several messages left at his office and home Thursday evening.
Assistant City Manager Mitchell Johnson said as a part of the deal, Adduono and the marketing staffers were brought onto the city payroll. The city is looking to fill positions for the rest of the staff, including operations and equipment manager. Holliday said the city will not be paying player salaries this season.
City Manager Ed Kitchen, who directed Brown in June to strike a deal with team owners, is on vacation and could not be reached for comment.
Johnson said the personnel moves and management changes occurred without a written contract for the city's involvement, which is still being negotiated with the team's current managers.
Adduono said Thursday that he couldn't comment on his hiring. The coach said there was no hidden agenda behind his hiring.
Bryan Graham, the vice president of hockey operations for the East Coast Hockey League, said Thursday that Adduono's salary is about average for a coach in the league. Graham said he was unaware of any other arrangement where a city paid the salaries of team staff.
Adduono's salary makes him the fourth-highest paid employee of the coliseum, ahead of the arena's maintenance and food-service directors.
Brown met with Adduono as early as May 14 to negotiate a contract with the coach, who in his first season took the struggling team from last place to a 42-21-9 record and to the second round of the ECHL playoffs.
At the time, City Attorney Linda Miles was quoted as saying "I wouldn't expect us to get involved in the personnel issues for some other company."
In June, lead owner and Greensboro attorney Art Donaldson ceded control of the team's operations to a group of Greensboro businessmen led by car dealership owner Bill Black and Don Brady, owner of Brady Trane. Under the agreement, Donaldson's Triad Professional Sports LLC maintains ownership but leases the team to Black and Brady.
Donaldson said Thursday that he no longer had any involvement in the team's operations and didn't know about the team's dealings with the city. Black and Brady could not be reached for comment.
City Councilman Don Vaughan said he was unaware of the arrangement to pay Adduono's salary and questioned why the city would get involved with the team's staff.
"It's the first I've heard of it," Vaughan said. "Aren't they a private club?"
Councilman Robbie Perkins defended the coliseum's involvement with the team, saying the city has more to lose by letting the franchise collapse than it will spend to keep it afloat.
"We're running a business at the coliseum, and if that's what it takes to run a business, then I'm fine with it," Perkins said. "While it may seem at face value as inappropriate, it's something you have to do."
Councilwoman Yvonne Johnson also said she was unaware of Adduono's hiring, but knew that the city wanted to play a bigger part in the team's operation.
"The city has supported the team as a last ditch effort to save the team," she said.
Contact Matt Williams at 373-7004 or email@example.com